UK: Sparing a couple of bob - ROBERT MAXWELL'S LIFE STILL PROVOKES INTEREST.

UK: Sparing a couple of bob - ROBERT MAXWELL'S LIFE STILL PROVOKES INTEREST. - Flotsam continues to rise in the wake of the leaky ship Maxwell. Not all of it has the baleful effect of the missing pension funds but it will still be of interest to chronicl

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Flotsam continues to rise in the wake of the leaky ship Maxwell. Not all of it has the baleful effect of the missing pension funds but it will still be of interest to chroniclers of the big man's eccentricities. Sharp-eyed readers with long memories may recall the existence once upon a time of another Robert Maxwell, to wit the British businessman expelled from Libya by Colonel Gadaffi in the early '80s for alleged spying activities. The publishers of the award-winning encyclopedia Chronicle of the Twentieth Century, remembered him and, with their commendable thoroughness, included him. In the first edition of the book, the two, homonymous Maxwells were accommodated under a single entry, though listed separately as 'publisher' and 'spy'. Before Chronicle could say 'Mossad', one of the famous Maxwell (ie. the publisher) writs had thudded onto their desks, threatening an injunction against publication - the big man's customary technique in such circumstances. 'Mr Maxwell claimed that an innocent reader might conclude from the index that Robert Maxwell the publisher and Robert Maxwell the spy were one and the same,' recalls a Chronicle spokesperson, drily. 'He wanted extraordinary things - full page ads in national newspapers, erratum slips and so on.' Faced with the potential ofa huge threat to their multi-million pound publication, Chronicle offered to change the offending index entries in succeeding editions and to pay a hefty out-of-court settlement. 'Let's just say it was five figures, and that it was accepted by Mr Maxwell,' recalls the Chronicle man with an understandable and perceptible wince. 'At the time, we all thought "how absurd". After all, this was Robert Maxwell MC, war hero: he should have been flattered to have been thought of as a British spy.

But subsequent revelations from Seymour Hersh seem to us to go some way towards explaining the late Mr Maxwell's sensitivity to suggestions that anyone of his name might have been involved in spying.'

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