UK & World News

  • 29 April 2014, 7:26

Max Clifford Found Guilty Of Sex Charges

PR guru Max Clifford has been found guilty of a string of sex attacks on teenage girls.

The 71-year-old became the first person to be convicted under the high profile Operation Yewtree sex crime investigation at Southwark Crown Court.

He was found guilty of eight indecent assaults, cleared of two and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on one other.

The guilty verdicts relate to four women, aged between 15 and 19 at the time of the offences, between 1978 and 1984.

The verdicts were taken in a hushed but packed courtroom, given by the forewoman of the jury on its eighth day of deliberations.

Clifford sat still in the dock as the jury forewoman returned the verdicts.

He could be seen breathing deeply as he listened through a hearing loop.

The publicist walked out of the courtroom with friends and supporters in complete silence, one of them patting him on the shoulder as he walked.

He walked outside to face the media, with his daughter Louise to his right, and said he had been "told not to say anything".

As he walked to his car, he was asked what it felt like to be the story, and Clifford replied it was "not the first time".

Clifford was released on bail until his sentencing on Friday, but Judge Anthony Leonard QC warned him this was no reflection on the sentence that will be passed.

He said: "You must realise that the fact I have given you bail is no indication of what the final sentence will be."

Clifford repeatedly denied the claims, calling his arrest and prosecution "a nightmare" and protesting his innocence.

Jurors in the trial - six men and four women - had started an eighth day of deliberation this morning.

They were sent out on April 15 at the end of a six-week trial in which Clifford was accused of manipulating seven girls and women into performing sex acts between 1966 and 1984.

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

The court heard from a string of women who testified about Clifford's behaviour, romping naked 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, Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Michael Winner on the phone.

He even bizarrely bragged about having a tiny penis, telling one victim: "Is it the smallest you've ever seen?"

The exact size of his manhood became a matter of contention during the trial, and his defence team asked a doctor to measure his penis as part of the evidence.

Victims included a dancer who received a phone call while she was at a nightclub from someone pretending to represent producer Broccoli, and was told to find out whether Clifford was circumcised.

She then "froze" and realised she was "stuck", and feared she would be raped when Clifford took her into the toilet and assaulted her.

Another girl, a teenage model, said Clifford groped her when she went to his office for career advice in 1983, bragging that he could get her a part in a James Bond film.

He then masturbated while he was on the phone to his wife, and tried to put his penis in her mouth.

The court also heard from a woman who claimed Clifford had impressed her parents with celebrity tales and went on to abuse her from the age of 15.

She said she was driven to contemplate suicide when he falsely told her he had a photograph of her giving him oral sex, and in 2011 sent him a letter claiming he had made her life "a living hell".

For his part, Clifford branded his accusers as "fantasists and opportunists".

The investigation, Scotland Yard's inquiry into historic allegations of sexual offences, was prompted after claims were made against the late DJ Jimmy Savile.

DCI Michael Orchard, of the Metropolitan Police, thanked victims for coming forward, while Jenny Hopkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said Monday's verdicts had given victims a "long, denied justice".

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