Data expert told: 'scrap files'

The Maxwell Trial; Day 76

A systems expert formerly employed by the media tycoon Robert Maxwell told a court yesterday how she deleted documents stored on his computer by order of the publishers's youngest son, Kevin.

Liza Payne, the 69th witness to testify at the Old Bailey trial, said that about three weeks after Robert Maxwell died at sea in 1991 she asked Kevin Maxwell what to do with the documents. He told her to get rid of them, she alleged.

However, questioned by Kevin Maxwell's defence lawyer, Alun Jones QC, she admitted that all the information was not destroyed because it was still in the backup system and on hard copies. She said that she supervised the backup system that ran automatically.

A few days later, Ms Payne said, when police and investigators from Britain's Serious Fraud Office requested the information from the chairman's system, she retrieved it from the back-up tapes.

As the systems co-ordinator for the chairman's office of Maxwell Communications Corporation, she was responsible for maintaining the computer files and back-up system. "I asked Kevin what I should do with Robert Maxwell's documents now that the secretaries were gone - they were taking up space on the computer. He said I should delete them, get rid of them," she said.

Ms Payne added that she had asked Kevin what to do with the information because it was clogging the computer system and slowing it down.

Kevin Maxwell, his brother Ian and former company director Larry Trachtenberg, all deny conspiring to defraud pensioners by misusing pension fund assets to raise bank loans. Kevin alone faces a further charge of conspiring with his father to defraud pension funds in relation to shares in the Israeli computer company Scitex.

The prosecution is expected to close its case when the trial resumes today.