I neither knew nor had any dealings with Bob Maxwell but I knew well two he did.
A recent biography by John Preston called The Fall has received good reviews but I do not really want to spend the time reading it.
However the BBC serialised it over 5 episodes and it was read by actor Henry Goodman.
This was enough for me.
The first person of the two was a huge friend of my parents – the writer, broadcaster and publisher William ‘Bill’ Davis.
Bill was perceptive enough to see the potential of airline magazines when he acquired High Life.
You had a captive audience and, in business and first class, an affluent one so the advertising potential was enormous.
I recall Bill, a regular presence at my parents’ dinner parties, at first excited when Bob Maxwell acquired the publication.
He was less excited when his pension was one of those that Maxwell raided. He called Maxwell ‘a great financial seducer’.
I can remember him attributing Maxwell’s appetite for food and acquisition to an absence of toys in his traumatic childhood. Bill also believed there was a case to be made that these commercial acquisitions were driven by the professionals who advised and executed them.
The second connection was a lovely man, now passed away, Arthur Davidson QC who at the time of the death of Maxwell was the legal director of Mirror Group Newspapers.
He was with Maxwell for a consultation with George Carman QC on the Tuesday before he drowned on his yacht the Thursday.
He said Maxwell was so disoriented that, in the car going to the consultation, he asked why the group solicitor David Maislish was not present when he actually was.
Maxwell got bored in the consultation which he wrongly assumed to be on a different claim and said it was a clear case of criminal libel.
He told Arthur to fetch his copy of Archbold’s Criminal Practice which he would study as the claim was clearly one of criminal libel.
Later, much later, Arthur attended with me a viewing of an auction of Maxwell’s personal effects and saw his Archbold as one of the lots.
His view was that Maxwell did not commit suicide but was so disorientated that he toppled off deck. This is supported by an autopsy that revealed he hung onto the side off the yacht for as long as he could.
What is not in doubt is that quite a few who danced on his watery grave were more than happy to benefit financially during his lifetime.