British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell said under oath in 2016 that she had never witnessed "inappropriate underage activities" by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, according to a deposition that she had fought hard to keep secret.

Ms Maxwell, 58, has pleaded not guilty to helping Epstein recruit and groom underage girls as young as 14 to engage in illegal sexual acts in the mid-1990s, and not guilty to perjury for having denied involvement in any such scheme when she gave her deposition under oath.

In the April 2016 deposition from a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit against Ms Maxwell by Virginia Giuffre - who has said Epstein kept her as a "sex slave" with Ms Maxwell's assistance - she did not answer directly whether she believed Epstein sexually abused minors.

She said instead that the only allegations she knew came from Ms Giuffre, whom she called a "liar."

Ms Maxwell, daughter of the late British publisher Robert Maxwell, was asked questions about her relationship with Epstein, who employed her to help run his properties, and allegations by Ms Giuffre, according to the transcript.

"I never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever," she said.

"I can't testify to what Jeffrey did or didn't do," Ms Maxwell said.

She later added: "I can only testify to what I know and the fact that [Ms Giuffre] has lied about me from the beginning to the end and repeatedly causes me to question anything that she may feel."

Epstein died in August 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges

Sigrid McCawley, a lawyer for Ms Giuffre, said in a statement that the deposition's release was "a long-time coming and a welcome step towards revealing the evidence of the scope and scale of the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell sex trafficking ring."

Ms Giuffre and the Miami Herald newspaper had sought the unsealing.

US District Judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan had directed that a transcript of Maxwell's testimony and other documents be released.

Epstein once counted US President Donald Trump, former US President Bill Clinton and Britain's Prince Andrew as friends.

Ms Giuffre has said she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with his friends, including Prince Andrew when she was 17 years old. Prince Andrew has denied the allegations.

Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on 2 July in Bradford, New Hampshire

Ms Maxwell testified that she flew on Epstein's planes with Mr Clinton but would not characterize the two men as friends or acquaintances and said she was never on one of Epstein's private islands with the former president.

"One of the lies she told was that President Clinton was on the island where I was present. That is a flat out total fabrication and lie," Maxwell said in a deposition that lasted 9.5 hours.

Lawyers for Ms Maxwell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While Ms Maxwell repeatedly denied wrongdoing, she was asked several times whether any indecent activities were taking place in Epstein's orbit.

Her lawyers have said the fact the questions were asked could suggest to the public that Ms Giuffre's lawyers believed they might have had a basis to ask them, even if the conduct never happened.

Lawyers for Ms Maxwell had argued that making the deposition public could imperil her ability to get a fair trial, because jurors might hold its contents against her. A trial is scheduled for July 2021.

Ms Maxwell was arrested on 2 July in Bradford, New Hampshire, where authorities said she was hiding on a property she bought in December in an all-cash transaction with her identity shielded.

She was placed in a Brooklyn jail after the judge in her criminal case called her an unacceptable flight risk.

Ms Maxwell told lawyers that she was employed by Epstein and hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool people and pilots as part of the upkeep of six homes, according to the transcript, which takes up 418 pages.

"A very small part of my job was from time to time to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey," the transcript said.

Prince Andrew pictured with his arm around Virginia Giuffre's waist at Ghislaine Maxwell's house

Ms Maxwell appeared evasive as a lawyer for Ms Giuffre pressed her on whether she hired Ms Giuffre to give Epstein an erotic massage.

"Virginia Roberts held herself out as a masseuse and invited herself to come and give a massage," Maxwell testified.

The deposition and other documents were cleared for release after the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Monday rejected Ms Maxwell's "meritless" arguments that her interests outweighed the presumption the public should see the materials.

Many names in the transcript of the deposition were blacked out.

Epstein died by suicide at age 66 in August 2019 at a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges announced the previous month.

He had previously escaped federal prosecution by pleading guilty in 2008 to Florida state prostitution charges, an agreement now widely considered too lenient.

Asked why she maintained contact with Epstein after his guilty plea, Ms Maxwell responded that she was "a very loyal person and Jeffrey was very good to me when my father passed away and I believe that you need to be a good friend in people's hour of need and that it was a very thoughtful, nice thing for me to do".