Max Clifford gets eight-year sentence

Clifford smiled as the sentence was handed down. Photo / AP
Clifford smiled as the sentence was handed down. Photo / AP

Top British celebrity publicist Max Clifford was sentenced to eight years' jail early today for indecent assaults on four women between 1977 and 1984.

Judge Anthony Leonard said Clifford's victims believed he was "untouchable" because of his dominant position in the entertainment business and the publicist had traded on this power.

He said several women who gave supporting evidence of bad character during the trial were "convincing" and Clifford had led a double existence for decades.

Clifford, who wore jeans and a white open-collared shirt in Southwark Crown Court in south London, smiled as the sentence was handed down.

At a mitigation hearing in the morning (UK time), the judge told Clifford, who was convicted this week of eight counts of indecent assault, that if the offences had been committed today, he would have been charged with rape, and his starting point would be 10 years' imprisonment.

But he added: "My sentencing powers are restricted to what was available at the time, and the maximum was two years in prison."

The most recent offence committed by the public relations guru was in 1984, just before new legislation introduced tougher punishments for sex offenders.

A type of sex act of which Clifford was convicted "would now be charged as rape", the judge said.

Earlier, Clifford claimed he was innocent as he arrived at the court, saying: "I stand by everything I have said in the last 17 months."

Asked how he was feeling ahead of the sentencing, Clifford added that it was "not the best day of my life".

He continued: "I just have to make the best of what the court gives me.

"It is the same as I have felt since it started 17 months ago, it is like living under a dark cloud.

"It is the same for my family ... for my daughter and everyone close to me."

Asked if he had anything to say to the victims, he said: "There's plenty I would like to say to them."

Any possibility of an appeal was a matter for his lawyers, he added.

He paused for a mass of photographers and TV crews to get pictures and footage, in what could be the last images of Clifford as a free man.

The 71-year-old was found guilty on Monday, becoming the first person to be convicted under sex crime investigation Operation Yewtree.

He was convicted of eight counts of indecent assault.

As proceedings began, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC confirmed that no retrial would be sought over one count on which the jury were unable to reach a verdict.

After the 30-minute hearing Judge Anthony Leonard adjourned sentencing until 2pm (local time), remanding Clifford in custody.

Clifford waved to family and friends from the dock as he was taken down to the cells.

Since the verdicts, a string of Clifford's former clients have moved to distance themselves from the veteran agent, who for decades has been a key player in Britain's showbusiness and media circles.
Clifford had been released on bail until his sentencing today.

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, romping naked in his New Bond St 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.

Victims included one girl who said Clifford 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, a, nd charged in April the following year.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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