GHISLAINE Maxwell is blaming her arrest on the death of her ex-lover Jeffrey Epstein in prison, new court papers reveal.

The British heiress, 59, insists that US prosecutors are only gunning for her because they failed to prevent the paedophile billionaire killing himself in his cell 18 months ago.

Maxwell is facing child grooming and sex abuse charges that could see her jailed for up to 35 years.

Her lawyers are now challenging the case against her on multiple grounds, court papers filed unsealed on Thursday show, saying she has been “substituted” for the sex fiend.

Attorney Mark Cohen wrote: “One does not need to engage in complex analysis to understand what has happened here: the government has sought to substitute our client for Jeffrey Epstein, even if it means stretching – and ultimately exceeding – the bounds of the law.

“Yet, it is in precisely this setting – involving a defendant who, despite her years of denials, has been publicly attacked, threatened, and vilified like few others in recent memory – that the government’s scrupulous adherence to the law in prosecuting a criminal defendant is most critical.

“The indictment must be dismissed.

“The government’s sudden zeal to prosecute Ms Maxwell for alleged conduct with Epstein in the 1990s – conduct for which the government never even charged Epstein – follows a history that is both highly unusual and deeply troubling.”

Maxwell is facing trial in July on charges that she recruited three teenage girls from 1994 to 1997 for Epstein to sexually abuse – which she denies.

She is also accused of taking part in abuse.

The charges against Maxwell, last July, came exactly one year after Epstein, 66, was arrested on sex trafficking charges in Manhattan.

He killed himself in jail one month later.

Socialite Maxwell, who has citizenship in the US, the UK and France, has been held without bail after a judge rejected a £20million bail package on flight risk grounds.

Maxwell's lawyers attacked the case against her on the grounds that a grand jury in suburban New York – which decided to prosecute her – deprived her of non-white grand jurors.

They also said perjury charges stemming from two depositions in 2016 in a now settled lawsuit must be tossed because the questions posed were ambiguous and answers given were true.

Maxwell is also arguing that a non-prosecution agreement Epstein signed with prosecutors in Florida 12 years ago, protected any alleged co-conspirators – including her.

Her lawyers say: “The government is bound by the agreement it negotiated and executed.”

They added that the wording of the document was “clear, explicit, and unambiguous.”

Her lawyers argue prosecutors only charged Maxwell after Epstein’s death and what then-Attorney General Bill Barr called “a perfect storm of screw-ups” which left the US government embarrassed.

The lawyers wrote that the death caused media attention to shift from Epstein to Ms. Maxwell.

They said: “She was portrayed as Epstein's equal – if not his superior – and baselessly caricatured as a villain of near-mythical proportions.

“In short, the government's response to the media frenzy was not to adhere to its earlier objective analysis and consideration of the facts, but to feed the frenzy and substitute Ms Maxwell for Epstein.”

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