Max Clifford 'bullied women and girls into sex acts'

The BBC's Nick Higham reports on events in court

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PR consultant Max Clifford used his celebrity contacts "to bully and manipulate" girls and women into sexual acts with him, a court has heard.

Opening the prosecution case, Rosina Cottage QC said Mr Clifford knew how to "manipulate, lie and get what he wants".

Mr Clifford from Hersham, Surrey, faces 11 counts of indecent assault relating to seven alleged victims, aged from 14 to 19, between 1966 and 1984.

He denies all the charges against him.

Addressing Southwark Crown Court, Ms Cottage said: "The defendant used his contact with famous people to bully and manipulate these young people into sexual acts with him."

'Untouchable'

She went on to tell the jury of six men and six women that Mr Clifford's actions "breached the trust" of parents, who he had encouraged to trust him, and that of young women who were "seeking jobs in the world in which he worked".

Mr Clifford was "the maker of the kiss-and-tell celebrity and the breaker of reputations", Ms Cottage said.

"He has been at the top of the media game for many years. He knows the strings to pull. He knows how to manipulate, lie and get what he wants.

She continued that Mr Clifford's "office was his own sexual fiefdom".

"These women were vulnerable to the attentions of a man experienced in taking sexual advantage of their naivety and their willingness to please.

"He toyed with their inexperience and treated them with contempt. And we say he continues to do so by denying their allegations."

Max Clifford arriving at court Max Clifford was first arrested in December 2012

The court heard that the 70-year-old had had sexual encounters with "many women" but that he claimed they were all consensual.

The prosecutor added: "As the years went by, he got away with his behaviour, he must have thought he was untouchable and no doubt thought no one would complain and, if they did, they would not be believed."

Earlier Mr Clifford, wearing a grey jacket and white shirt, posed for pictures outside the London court.

The trial, which is expected to last at least six weeks, involves the following charges:

  • One offence of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 14, in 1966
  • One offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 18, in 1974/75
  • Three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1977/78
  • One offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 19, in 1978
  • Two offences of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 16 or 17, in 1981/82
  • One offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 19, in 1980/81
  • Two offences of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 18, in 1984

Mr Clifford, who has previously said he is "totally innocent", was first arrested in December 2012 as part of the Metropolitan Police's Operation Yewtree.

The inquiry was set up following historical allegations of sex abuse against the late DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Savile - however Mr Clifford's arrest was unrelated to any allegations against Savile.

The court has now adjourned until Monday 10 March.

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