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Planners spill the beans on Maxwell's house

It was the sort of annoying thing that could happen to anyone who was made bankrupt owing hundreds of millions of pounds.

There Kevin Maxwell was, wanting to build a tennis court in the grounds of his family's 16th Century manor house, when he found that there was a bit of a planning glitch - mainly that he didn't have permission to live there.

It was fortunate for him that, despite going down with debts of pounds 406.5m owed to Mirror Group pensioners, he and his wife, Pandora, decided to look into building the tennis court, otherwise they might never have found out that Moulsford Manor, near Wallingford, Oxon, did not have planning permission to be used as a residential dwelling.

It was while making inquiries into laying the tennis court that they found out that the manor house used to be a nursing hostel and was registered for institutional use only.

According to planning minutes from South Oxfordshire District Council, Mrs Maxwell has since applied for planning permission to change the use of the manor house to residential.

Today is the deadline for anyone to lodge objections, but it is unlikely anyone will - unless any of the pensioners have already heard about the application. They were not happy with Robert Maxwell's stewardship of their funds. He raided pension schemes over and over again to prop up his crumbling business empire.

Kevin Maxwell was the signatory of a number of movements of shares from pension schemes that were never returned, but he and his brother, Ian, were cleared of fraud in January 1996. He has been discharged as a bankrupt.