Kevin's arrest 'was intended to humiliate'

The Maxwell Trial; Day 49
Kevin Maxwell, youngest son of media tycoon Robert Maxwell, was arrested by the Serious Fraud Office in circumstances calculated to inflict ritual public humilation on him, it was alleged yesterday.

Despite Mr Maxwell's offers to attend interviews at any time and place, and the SFO's stated wish to avoid a media circus, he was arrested at dawn in the full glare of publicity, claimed his barrister, Alun Jones QC.

Mr Jones was cross-examining Ian Huntington, an accountant with KMPG who was seconded as an assistant director of the SFO to investigate the Maxwell empire's collapse.

He put it to Mr Huntington that it was decided it was "time these two arrogant young lads [Kevin and his brother Ian] got their comeuppance and there is going to be a public nicking".

"Absolutely no - they were not the terms used," Mr Huntington replied.

He had decided not to ask the accused to come in with their lawyers but to arrest them because "there was concern about Larry Trachtenberg [the third defendant] as he was a foreign national and it was thought we would look very silly if he went to the United States".

The decision on the method of arrest was left to Detective Superintendent John Todd of the City of London police, Mr Huntingdon added.

He was giving evidence on the last day of the marathon Maxwell trial before it began its summer break. Kevin and Ian Maxwell and Mr Trachtenberg, a former Maxwell aide, all deny conspiracy to defraud.

Before the arrest, Kevin Maxwell's solicitor, Keith Oliver, had telephoned and written to the SFO's case controller, John Tate, expressing concern that there was going to be a dawn raid.

In reply, Mr Tate wrote: "I am in complete agreement about the need to avoid a media circus." He added that he would give notice before any meeting with the SFO.

But Mr Jones claimed that "rather than having a calm, polite and decorous beginning of the legal process", a decision was taken "to inflict ritual public humiliation upon Kevin Maxwell by having him arrested in the full glare of the press".

Kevin's arrest at his London home led to widespread reporting of his wife's remarks to police to "piss off" when she mistook them for reporters.

Asked if he or anyone else had tipped off the press, Mr Huntington said: "I didn't - obviously I can't speak for everybody."

The trial will resume on August 29.