Publisher Robert Maxwell dies at sea
The body of the millionaire newspaper publisher, Robert Maxwell, has been found in the sea off the coast of Tenerife.
Mr Maxwell’s body was discovered at approximately 1800 local time (1700 GMT) and flown to Gran Canaria for identification.
The publisher had been cruising in the Canary Isles aboard his luxury yacht, the Ghislaine.
He is thought to have gone overboard early this morning but was not reported missing until about 1100 local time (1000 GMT) when he failed to answer a telephone call.
Two helicopters, rescue launches and a dozen ships were then sent to the area to assist in the search.
It is not yet known how Mr Maxwell ended up overboard.
The Prime Minister, John Major, has led the tributes to Mr Maxwell, calling him a “great character”.
From humble beginnings in Czechoslovakia, Robert Maxwell became one of Britain’s richest men.
He enlisted in the British army during World War II and was decorated for bravery.
He subsequently worked for the Foreign Office before building his business empire.
In 1984 he achieved a long-held ambition to own a national newspaper when he bought the Daily Mirror.
Earlier this year Mr Maxwell also purchased a New York paper, the Daily News, which had been on the brink of closure.
But at the same time he was being forced to sell off companies to reduce his debts, prompting criticism of his business methods and abrasive management-style.
Dealing in shares in Mr Maxwell’s Mirror Group was suspended after the news of his disappearance became public.
Mr Maxwell’s sons, Kevin and Ian, have been put in charge of his businesses.
After Robert Maxwell’s death it emerged that the Mirror Group’s debts vastly outweighed its assets and £440m was missing from the company’s pension funds.
In 1996, after an eight-month trial, Kevin and Ian Maxwell and another man, Larry Trachtenberg, were cleared of conspiracy to defraud Mirror Group pensioners.
In 2001 the Department of Trade and Industry released a report into the Maxwell affair which said “primary responsibility” for the collapse of the Maxwell business empire lay with its founder.
But it added that Kevin Maxwell and some leading City financial institutions also bore a “heavy responsibility” for the company’s failure. After Robert Maxwell’s death campaigners for the 30,000 Mirror Group pensioners mounted a three-year campaign for compensation.
Their funds were largely recovered thanks to a £100m government payout and a £276m out-of-court settlement with City institutions and the remnants of Robert Maxwell’s media group.