Thursday 18 December 2014

‘I thought Max Clifford would rape me’

Woman tells court she was ‘lucky to escape’

Margaret Davis

Published 10/03/2014 | 11:40

Publicist Max Clifford
Publicist Max Clifford

A woman who was allegedly indecently assaulted by PR guru Max Clifford thought she was going to be raped when he "lunged" at her in his car, a court has heard.

The woman, who cannot be named, claims Clifford indecently assaulted her in 1966 after the pair met at a Wimpy bar in south west London, jurors at Southwark Crown Court were told.

She said that after offering her a lift home, he drove her to an alleyway near a sports field, saying he had something to show her.

The court heard that he produced a book of photographs of him with celebrities including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and she said she would like to meet the Walker Brothers.

The woman said: "He said 'I can arrange that, but this is what you've got to do', and he put my seat right back and then he tried for force himself upon me, basically.

"My seat, I think it went almost horizontal, that's the way it seemed, he then sort of lunged at me and put his body on me.

"He was touching me all over."

Clifford, wearing a navy jacket, white shirt and striped tie with grey trousers, listened through a hearing loop from the dock.

The woman said: "I was sort of on autopilot, 'How I can get away from here', and it was quite obvious what he wanted to do.

"I thought at the time I was going to get raped if I didn't get out of the car, I was just thinking about escape."

She told the court she managed to open the car door and wriggle free, and ran home.

The woman said she felt "lucky" to have got away, and had feared for her safety as soon as Clifford started driving in the opposite direction to her home.

"I didn't really want to tell my parents about it because I think they would have locked me in forever then, because they were quite strict anyway. I just felt quite relieved to get away," she told the jury.

"I was just so happy to be in one piece. I didn't know at the time if I was going to get raped or murdered.

"If someone starts driving in the opposite direction of where you are, you think 'I'm in trouble'."

The woman said she had told friends about what happened over the years, but did not go to the police until recently.

"As he became more of a household name and people would mention him or he was on the television, I'd say I had a really bad experience with him before he was really famous.

"People always said to me why didn't you go to the police?... Because he was so powerful and he virtually controls the media, what chance would I stand?

"If I were to hear it from other people then I would definitely do my bit and tell them what happened, because it was only fair. But I wouldn't have done it on my own because I wouldn't stand a chance."

Clifford, 70, from Hersham in Surrey, is accused of a total of 11 counts of indecent assault against seven women and girls. He denies all the charges, and says he would not have gone to a Wimpy.

In cross-examination by Richard Horwell QC, the court heard that the woman had described Clifford as "nerdy", because he wore a suit.

She said in a witness statement: "I was actually repulsed by him because he didn't fit in."

The woman, who was 14 at the time of the alleged assault while Clifford was in his early 20s, told the court: "He just wasn't very popular."

The jury heard that she could not remember any details of what Clifford's car was like, but thought there was a button or a lever somewhere that made her seat jolt back.

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