Max Clifford sentence appeal goes to court

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Max Clifford's sentence for indecent assaults was "unfair", his defence barrister has told the Court of Appeal.

The former publicist was jailed for eight years in May after being found guilty of assaulting four women and girls between 1977 and 1984.

Clifford used his celebrity connections to lure women and his status stopped his crimes being revealed sooner, the trial had heard.

The judgment in the sentence appeal will be announced at a later date.

'Common sense'

The 71-year-old, who watched proceedings via video link from Littlehey prison in Cambridgeshire, had lodged the appeal against the length of his prison term weeks after he was sentenced.

Richard Horwell QC, representing Clifford, argued that the trial judge's approach to sentencing had been "unfair" and that it "cannot be right".

While sentencing must reflect "modern attitudes", the process cannot "abandon common sense and fairness", Mr Horwell added.

His client is not a danger to women and his sentence was too long, he told the court.

However, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC claimed the judge had not gone "too far" in sentencing.

'Pale and gaunt'

During the original trial, Judge Anthony Leonard had said he was sure that in addition to the charges on which he was convicted, Clifford assaulted a 12-year-old girl in Spain.

Clifford could not be prosecuted over the alleged incident because it happened in 1983, before offences that took place abroad could be pursued in UK courts.

In court on Thursday, Mr Horwell said it had been wrong for the bad character claim to be used to increase the sentence.

Lord Justice Treacy questioned the "relevance" of the bad character evidence to the sentence, saying it was already clear Clifford was "predatory to women".

The date for the appeal ruling has not been given.

Lord Justice Treacy, who was sitting with Mr Justice Turner and Judge Michael Pert QC, said: "There are a significant number of issues to be considered and we consider that we require further time to discuss and decide those issues."

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Image caption,
Clifford is serving his eight sentences consecutively

Judge Leonard had ruled when sentencing Clifford that he should serve his eight sentences of between six and 24 months consecutively.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Leonard reminded the disgraced publicist that the maximum jail term at the time he committed the offences was two years.

But under later legislation passed in 2003 he could have faced 10 years, the judge said, and some of the worst instances would have been charged as rape or assault by penetration, which attract a maximum life term.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said Clifford looked "pale and gaunt" and it appeared he had lost weight.

Clifford's daughter Louise, who supported him during the trial, is at court for the hearing.

Clifford was the first person to be convicted under Operation Yewtree.

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