Injunction soughtto halt musical life of Maxwell

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THE Attorney General has applied to the High Court for an injunction to prevent a musical about the life of Robert Maxwell opening in the West End of London.

It is understood that the application is being made after a complaint from one of Maxwell's sons that the show could prejudice their forthcoming trial.

Solicitors believed to be acting for Kevin Maxwell have asked the Attorney General, Sir Nicholas Lyell, to intervene to halt Maxwell: the Musical Review, which is due to start previews at the Criterion Theatre next Friday and open on 21 February.

The musical is being staged by Evan Steadman, who spent three years working for Maxwell as chairman of Maxwell Business Communications. Kevin, 34, former chairman of Maxwell Communication, and his brother, Ian, have pleaded not guilty to fraud charges relating to the conduct of their father's business empire. Two of the alleged frauds involve deficits in the Mirror Group Newspapers pension fund discovered after the tycoon's death. There are four other defendants.

Mr Steadman's solicitors refused to comment on the application, which will be heard in the High Court on Monday.

Kevin Maxwell made an earlier attempt to stop the show last year. In a letter to Mr Steadman, Mr Maxwell's lawyers insisted that any attempt to vilify the billionaire would prejudice the forthcoming trial. Mr Steadman's lawyers argued that you cannot libel the dead. They also offered to show the script to Sir Nicholas Lyell. It is not clear why he has chosen to intervene now.

Mr Steadman, who made a fortune by selling his exhibition company to Maxwell and then worked for him, explained in a recent interview his motive in staging the review: 'One is ego. The other is that if you've got mates who are Maxwell pensioners you want to keep this in the public eye.'

The musical, which stars John Savident, a former policeman, as the corpulent publisher, has so far cost him pounds 1m. 'It's Maxwell's money that is paying for this show,' said Mr Steadman.

The review, which features the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan and the lyrics of a writer for Spitting Image, has already had a surfeit of publicity. Mr Steadman has been offering free tickets to people with the surname Maxwell. Fish and chips will be served on the first night, wrapped in copies of the Daily Mirror.