Maxwell 'capable of sudden generosity'

The Maxwell Trial; Day 85
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Financial Correspondent

Kevin Maxwell agreed with a bank's description of his father as "unpredictable and inconsistent", but told the Old Bailey that Robert Maxwell could also be capable of acts of spontaneous generosity.

In answer to his counsel, Alun Jones QC, Kevin Maxwell agreed with Lloyds Bank's assessment of his father. This was why the bank, in an internal memo, said it wanted to reduce its exposure to the group. Kevin told the jury his father was "capable of very substantial changes of direction and strategy without warning".

Kevin, in his eighth day in the witness box during the marathon Maxwell trial, said as an example that, by the Eighties, his father had built up one of the largest printing empires in the world.

Suddenly he decided to switch directions and go into publishing, with the acquisition of the Mirror Group. "One thing that remained constant with him was his interest in the media," said Kevin. "It remained a life-long interest."

Kevin, who had told how his father had bullied him into telling lies to a bank, yesterday said Robert Maxwell could also be a kindly employer.

Kevin described his "kind and spontaneous" action in taking the two young sons of Lloyds executive Johnny Armstrong up on to the roof of the Mirror headquarters to see his helicopter. In a condolence letter to the Maxwell brothers, Mr Armstrong said it had given his boys a lifelong memory.

The court was also told that Robert Maxwell had sent champagne to an employee who had just obtained a professional qualification, as well as phoning to congratulate him.

Kevin spent most of yesterday's session describing crisis talks with Lloyds bank, one of the Maxwell group's main bankers, in the wake of his father's disappearance in November 1991. Within hours of his father's mysterious death, Kevin Maxwell feared banks would cause problems by "running to the hills" and demanding their money back.

Kevin Maxwell, his brother Ian, and former Maxwell financial adviser, Larry Trachtenberg, deny conspiracy to defraud the pension fund by misusing pounds 22m worth of shares. Kevin Maxwell alone denies a similar charge of conspiring with his father to misuse pounds 100m worth of shares.

The trial continues today.