That she had managed to keep the identity of that husband secret from law enforcement and the gaze of the media was a shock to everyone.

“No one knew she was married,” a former friend of Ms Maxwell told The Times.

Even more curious was the fact that there appears to be no marriage certificate in public filings in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, where she was known to have spent time in the last year.

The identity of the alleged husband may yet lead prosecutors down new avenues in the wide-reaching investigation into the sexual abuse of young girls by Epstein.