2 May 2014

Max Clifford jailed for eight years for indecent assaults

The former celebrity publicist Max Clifford is sentenced for eight years on eight counts of indecent assault.

Max Clifford, the celebrity publicist who made his name helping the most famous people protect their reputation, has been sentenced to eight years for a string of indecent assaults.

The 71-year-old was found guilty on Tuesday by a jury at Southwark Crown Court, becoming the first person to be convicted under sex crime investigation Operation Yewtree.

He was convicted of eight counts of the crime against four women between 1977 and 1984.

Since the verdicts, the multimillion pound business he built faces the prospect of closure. A string of Clifford’s former clients have moved to distance themselves from the Mr Clifford, who previously told Channel 4 News he was “incredibly disappointed” at his conviction.

Well-practised manipulator

The jury of six men and four women – down to 10 members after two jurors were separately discharged earlier in the case – cleared him on two other counts, and were unable to reach a verdict on a third.

Clifford, who was released on bail until his sentencing today, has already been warned by judge Anthony Leonard QC that he may face jail.

He had repeatedly denied all the claims, calling his arrest and prosecution “a nightmare” and branding his accusers “fantasists”. The court heard from a string of other women who testified about Clifford’s behaviour, much of which occurred in his New Bond Street office.

Prosecutors portrayed him as a well-practised manipulator, who promised to boost his victims’ careers and get them to meet celebrities in exchange for sexual favours.

He offered to get them casting appointments, pretending to be Hollywood bigwigs including Steven Spielberg and Michael Winner on the phone, and bizarrely bragged about having a tiny penis.

String of allegations

Victims included one girl who said Clifford, from Hersham in Surrey, abused her on a number of occasions after he met her family on holiday in Torremolinos in Spain in 1977 when she was 15.

The jury could not reach a verdict on a count involving a woman who claimed Clifford groped her in his car after meeting her at a Wimpy bar in Morden, south London, in 1966.

He was cleared of another two allegations – one woman who said she was pushed up against a wall in his central London offices when he groped her and kissed her in 1975, and another who claimed she was groped in a taxi in 1978.

Clifford was arrested by detectives from Operation Yewtree in December 2012, and charged in April the following year.