BBC forced to shelve Maxwell film at 11th hour

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The Independent Online


Lawyers acting for Kevin Maxwell succeeded last night in preventing the broadcast of a controversial documentary on Robert Maxwell, only hours before it was to be transmitted at 9.30pm on BBC 1.

Keith Oliver, a solicitor acting for Mr Maxwell, asked the Attorney General's office to pre-empt the programme, in the light of possible charges that still could be brought, following Mr Maxwell's acquittal last week on charges of defrauding the Maxwell company pension funds.

Mr Oliver said it was appropriate to seek advice from the Attorney General on the broadcast, "at a time when a dec- ision is still being made by the Serious Fraud Office as to whether additional charges will be brought against Kevin Maxwell".

A BBC spokeswoman said last night: "I can confirm that the Attorney General has been in touch with the BBC and that the programme has been postponed for legal reasons."

Mr Maxwell and his brother, Ian, were last week acquitted of charges of defrauding the Maxwell pension funds. The SFO is now considering whether to bring additional charges against Kevin Maxwell and others involved.

"We expressed to the Attorney General our considerable anxiety over a programme about which we know little," Mr Oliver said.

The documentary, produced by Tom Bower, author of book highly critical of Robert Maxwell, replaced the first of a two-part Panorama series on the modern welfare state.

A BBC spokeswoman said that the programme "contained footage of Mr Maxwell, and included scenes from his last days at sea." She said the programme "reveals how he died".