Lloyd's won't pay policy on Maxwell, citing suicide

February 22, 1992|By Craig R. Whitney | Craig R. Whitney,New York Times News Service

LONDON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — LONDON -- Lloyd's of London, the British underwriter of a $36 million accident insurance policy on Robert Maxwell, said yesterday that it did not intend to pay the policy because its investigators had concluded that he probably committed suicide.

Mr. Maxwell's body was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean near the Canary Islands Nov. 5. At the time, his media and publishing empire was collapsing under a burden of debt and apparent fraud.

He left an international business empire with more than $4 billion in debts. Mr. Maxwell's holdings included the New York Daily News.

Excerpts from reports by an insurance adjuster, Roger Rich, and British pathologist, Dr. Iain West, who performed the second of two autopsies on Mr. Maxwell just before his burial, were published yesterday in two British newspapers.

A Lloyd's spokeswoman, Jane Vidler, said the published reports accurately reflected the conclusions of the insurance investigators. According to The Sun, they found that "the pathological results do not exclude other possibilities, but, similarly, they do not exclude suicide, and we believe that the evidence toward that theory is more compelling than any other cause."

Mr. Rich told The Evening Standard newspaper: "My report basically states that at the moment I do not have sufficient evidence to substantiate a claim under the policy." He said he had invited the Maxwell Group to provide evidence but that it had not submitted any.

Mr. Rich's findings examined the circumstantial evidence suggesting suicide. Mr. Maxwell had flown to Gibraltar to board his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, on Oct. 31.

On Nov. 3, the report said, he asked the pilot to fly to Tenerife, Canary Islands, to pick him up the next day but that he wanted the plane to circle over the yacht first, as if in a final salute.

Before he was last seen on deck, at 4:10 a.m. Nov. 5, he apparently had locked his stateroom door, the report notes, and the key has never been found.

"If Robert Maxwell died as a result of natural causes, homicide or as the result of an accident, why did he lock the stateroom door?" the report asked, concluding that the most likely cause of death was suicide.

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