Her defence team say the socialite, who is being held in a New York jail on sex charges, “vigorously denies” the claims and will fight them. She is said to have been a fixer for Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier and convicted child abuser who took his own life in prison last year. On Tuesday a judge will decide if Maxwell, 58, can walk out of prison on £4million bail after 12 days behind bars. Her lawyers say the rampant spread of Covid-19 in US prisons puts her at risk.
They also claim Maxwell has been “the target of alarming physical threats, even death threats, and has had to hire security guards”.
But lawyers for alleged victims of her and Epstein believe she could try to make a deal even if she pleads not guilty to the six charges, including interstate trafficking of underage girls and perjury.
If convicted she faces up to 35 years in prison.
Tom Copeland, an attorney with Florida-based law firm Goldenfarb, which represents six victims in pending civil cases, said yesterday: “It would be outrageous for her to get any kind of sweetheart deal. There is little doubt she has information about others that makes her a key witness. If witness protection were to be offered she might view it as a means by which to vanish forever.”
Federal defence attorney Gregg Lerman revealed Maxwell and her legal team could be hammering out a deal with prosecutors using a court tool known as a “Queen for a Day” proffer.
He said: “Just like it says, you’re the queen for the day. You get to talk about what you know and who you know – and that information cannot be used against you.
“In a one-day session, the accused can reveal with immunity all of the evidence they can bring to the table, with the assumption that the government will agree to cut a deal in their case.”
The prospect of such a deal for Maxwell – whose late father was the crooked newspaper tycoon Robert – sparked uproar among alleged victims.
Virginia Giuffre tweeted her shock and anger at the suggestion. She claims she was abused by Epstein and that she had sex with Prince Andrew three times at Epstein’s behest, including at a house owned by Maxwell. Andrew vehemently denies her claims and has said he had “no recollection of ever meeting” Giuffre.
Prosecutors still want to interview the Prince, who was introduced to Epstein by Maxwell.
Her arrest on July 2, at a remote mansion in New Hampshire, came 11 months after Epstein was found hanged in his cell. Maxwell’s attorneys Mark Cohen and Jeff Pagliuca say: “She vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
They say she had no contact with Epstein “for more than a decade”, and if she is granted bail she will wear an electronic tag during home confinement in New York and surrender her British, American and French passports.
Two of her sisters will co-sign her bail bond, backed by UK properties valued at £3million.
Maxwell is being held in Brooklyn where she is on round-the-clock suicide watch. She has been given paper clothes and had her bedding removed.