Maxwell trial halted as defendant falls ill

The Maxwell trial was halted yesterday when one of the defendants became seriously ill.

Robert Bunn, 47, a former finance director of Maxwell Communication Corporation, could not attend what should have been Day 38 at the Old Bailey.

Mr Justice Phillips told the jury: "I regret to say that over the weekend Mr Bunn has been taken ill. We have not yet got detailed information about his condition and so it is impossible to see precisely what implication that will have. The immediate implication is that we cannot sit today and almost certainly not tomorrow."

It is understood Mr Justice Phillips will address the court on Thursday on the subject of the trial, which started at the end of May. Legal experts predicted at that point that it would last at least six months, with some forecasting a year. Over 60 witnesses are being called. Legal sources expect the final bill for the taxpayer to be pounds 25m.

Mr Bunn, of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, is in the dock with two of Robert Maxwell's sons, Kevin and Ian, together with another former Maxwell aide, Larry Trachtenberg, 42, of Hampstead, North-west London.

All four deny conspiracy to defraud by misusing pounds 22m worth of shares in the Israeli company Teva belonging to the pension fund to try and prop up the ailing Maxwell empire after the founder's death.

Kevin alone denies a similar charge of conspiring with his father to misuse pounds 100m worth of shares in another Israeli company to pay private Maxwell company debts.

Mr Bunn is being defended by Peter Rook QC and Phillip Hackett.

The trial was adjourned last Friday morning because a juror had to deal with a family illness. The trial was also delayed by a day last month when Michael Hill QC, defending Larry Trachtenberg, collapsed in court with a non-serious illness.

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