Clifford used fame to lure victims
- 28 April 2014
- From the section UK
Max Clifford has spent a lifetime building and protecting reputations - now his own lies in tatters.
He made his fortune as the man behind the stars - representing a string of famous faces from Jade Goody to OJ Simpson.
But after the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal, the spotlight began to fall on other men, like Clifford, who made their names in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Women began to come forward with stories of being assaulted and the police took them seriously, in the form of Operation Yewtree.
Clifford pleaded not guilty to 11 separate counts of indecent assault against women and girls aged 14 to 19 alleged to have taken place between 1966 and 1984.
"Utterly revolting, utterly untrue, disgusting lies," was how he described the allegations.
However, the jury at Southwark Crown Court has now found him guilty of eight charges. They cleared him on two counts, and were unable to reach a verdict in relation to the youngest alleged victim, who had been 14.
As prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC put it, Clifford - now 71 - had "used his contact with famous people to bully and manipulate these young people into sexual acts with him".
Time and again the prospect of fame was dangled in front of them.
For his part, Clifford claimed those who accused him were "fantasists" after money - but the defence begged to differ.
But Ms Cottage argued these were "not wannabes in the witness box".
When Clifford met a 15-year-old on holiday with her family in Spain, her parents encouraged her to pursue contact with him after being impressed by his name-dropping.
She said she was "blown away" when he told her she "could be the UK version" of Jodie Foster, and felt unable to say no when he asked her to take off her top and bra.
He later forced her to perform oral sex on him and indecently assaulted her.
Decades later, the victim wrote Clifford an anonymous letter - it was found in his bedside table when his home was searched by police.
"You took pleasure in degrading me... You were very clever. A+ in grooming children," it said.
Several women gave accounts of being invited to Clifford's office about an apparent career opportunity, only for the meetings to turn sour.
An extra in the Bond film Octopussy was tempted with the prospect of a part in a Charles Bronson film - at one point, she was even handed the phone by Clifford to speak to a man purporting to be Bronson himself.
After stripping to her underwear at Clifford's request, he pushed her down on a sofa, lay on top of her and tried to kiss and touch her.
She told the court she had been "very frightened" that she was going to be raped.
In another case, Clifford told an aspiring model she must undress for him and when she reluctantly agreed, he groped her and tried to force her to perform a sex act on him.
Another victim, 19 at the time, was assaulted in a toilet cubicle after being lured with the fictional offer of a screen test with James Bond film producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli.
Afterwards, she said he told her "something very cocky like, no-one is going to believe me".
Hot tub claim
Clifford admitted to sexual activity in his office - "slap and tickle, kissing and cuddling", as he described it. He also admitted affairs with two female employees.
But he said those "relationships developed naturally" although he knew they were "morally wrong".
A number of other women gave evidence that was not the basis of charges, so was not deliberated on by the jury, but was presented as the prosecution sought to back up its depiction of the sort of man that Clifford was.
One woman alleged he exposed himself to her on two occasions and posed as an Italian film director to lure her to a second meeting, while another said he had told her that if she performed oral sex on him he would arrange for her to meet David Bowie .
The most serious of the prosecution's supporting claims was an allegation from a woman who told the court Clifford had indecently assaulted her in a hot tub on holiday when she was just 12 years old.
Some very personal testimony about Clifford's penis formed a key part of the trial.
His defence tried to argue that because several women had given several different accounts of its size - ranging from "freakishly small" to "enormous" - none could be relied upon to be telling the truth about the assaults.
At one point the jury descended into giggles and were sent out of court to calm down.
Throughout the trial, Clifford's lawyers also tried to argue that other "details" had "caught out" the prosecution witnesses.
Their client didn't own a car in 1966 so how could he have assaulted someone in his vehicle? He didn't share an office with one accuser so how could he have attacked her at work?
Defence witnesses - including Birds of a Feather actress Pauline Quirke and chat show host Des O'Connor - spoke of his good character.
Others hailed his charity work and the care he had given to his daughter Louise who has suffered from arthritis from a young age.
'Tried to humiliate'
Clifford himself even said he had helped to expose Gary Glitter and Jonathan King as paedophiles, so couldn't believe the tables had been turned on him.
But Neil Wallis, former tabloid newspaper editor, told the BBC that Clifford would regularly "boast about his sexual antics".
"Max Clifford was a great white shark. He had absolutely no conscience. The only thing that mattered was what Max wanted, when he wanted it."
Peter Watt, from the NSPCC, added: "He abused them once when the original offence took place and he chose to abuse them again by making them testify in court.
"He almost goaded and tried to humiliate them again in court with the words [he used] and the way he spoke."