Maxwell's widow demands 311,000 pounds MGN pension

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The Independent Online
THE WIDOW of Robert Maxwell is claiming a pounds 311,000-a-year pension - and more than pounds 1m in back payments - which her lawyers say she is owed by Mirror Group Newspapers' pension scheme.

A letter to MGN from Betty Maxwell's solicitors, D J Freeman, claims an annual pension of pounds 311,000 payable since the disgraced tycoon's death in November 1991.

The lawyers say that pounds 466,000 in payments should have been made so far along with a pounds 750,000 discretionary grant to cover her service to the company.

The MGN fund is being replenished by the newspaper group at a cost of nearly pounds 20m a year to cover the pounds 450m that Maxwell stole from his companies' pension schemes. The fund's trustees are taking legal advice but are understood to be ready to fight Mrs Maxwell in court to prevent her from having the pension.

Maxwell pensioners, many of whom are still suffering reduced payments because of the fraud, reacted angrily. 'She'd have to sue us to the grave if I had anything to do with it,' said Tony Boram, of the Maxwell Pensioners Action Group.

Mrs Maxwell, 72, received pounds 15,000 from the pension fund 10 days after her husband died. However, once the fraud was exposed the trustees, led by MGN's managing director, Charles Wilson, stopped payments to her.

Sources at MGN said they believed that Maxwell may not have made any payments into the scheme to cover pensions for himself and his wife. He also bent the rules of the scheme to allow them to be admitted after he took control of MGN in 1985. At the time both were more than 60, the normal retirement age in the scheme.

Mrs Maxwell, who lives in France, has often complained about her pension being taken away. Though professing poverty in a magazine interview last year at the Dorchester hotel, she is known to have contributed more than pounds 900,000 towards the legal costs of her sons, Kevin and Ian, who are facing fraud charges.