Maxwell was particularly close with her father, a former newspaper owner, MP and fraudster, with many former associates describing her as the favourite of his nine children.
Now, after the release of the new BBC documentary House of Maxwell, which charts the rise and fall of the high-flying family, the pair’s relationship has come under renewed scrutiny, after viewers were creeped out by one particular insight provided by Robert Maxwell’s former secretary.
During the first episode of the documentary, former Mirror Group secretary Carol Bragoli revealed that she would often be able to listen in to Maxwell’s phone conversations, explaining that he ‘couldn’t be bothered’ to take the phone off loud speaker.
“He was at his desk and my back was turned the whole time and I heard everything, all the phone calls, he had many phone calls,” she recalled.
“One day reception rang through and said ‘It’s Ghislaine’ and he says ‘Put her on’ and the next thing I heard was ‘meow’, and he went ‘meow, meow’ and she went ‘meow’.”
According to Bragoli, this bizarre greeting ‘went on for about ten meows’, before the father and daughter began their actual conversation.
Bragoli also claimed that Maxwell ‘definitely had a different relationship with Ghislaine than he had with the others’, with his youngest daughter frequently seen ‘flitting around’ his office.
The odd insight left viewers with more than a few questions, with one person tweeting “Omg, they were meowing at each other – talk about weird.”
“Can’t get the ‘miaowing’ phone calls between father & daughter out of my head,” another wrote, with a third person commenting “Meeow… really i mean that is not natural behaviour.”
The episode was the first in a three part documentary charting the rise of Ghislaine Maxwell from the daughter of one of Britain’s richest tycoons to a woman convicted of helping her former boyfriend Jeffrey Epstein traffic and sexually abuse underage girls.
Several people familiar with Maxwell’s background have spoken of the formative influence her father, who himself had a murky past, had on Ghislaine.
“What do you do if you’ve lived in the shadow of a very strong, very selfish character, a very demanding character who turns out to be a rogue?” her father’s former spokesperson Andy McSmith said.
“I don’t know what do you do, but maybe you find solace in another very strong, selfish character.”