Monday 29 December 2014

Max Clifford 'used celebrity links to bully girls into sex acts

'PR guru denies charges of indecent assault over 20-year period

Hayley Dixon in London

Published 07/03/2014 | 02:30

Publicist Max Clifford leaves Southwark Crown Court in central London
Publicist Max Clifford leaves Southwark Crown Court in central London
Publicist Max Clifford leaves Southwark Crown Court in central London

PR guru Max Clifford thought he was "untouchable" and used his celebrity connections to "bully and manipulate" girls and women into sex acts over a 20-year period, a court heard yesterday.

Opening the prosecution case, Rosina Cottage told jurors that the 70-year-old "knows how to manipulate, lie and get what he wants".

For almost two decades he preyed on the "naivety and their willingness to please" of young women and used his office as his "own sexual fiefdom", it is alleged. One woman, who was 19 at the time, claims when she was at his office Clifford exposed himself and told her: "Look at my penis. Isn't it tiny? What can I do with this?"

It is claimed that Clifford did this again at a second meeting with the woman, who is not part of the alleged offences, and called her on the phone, putting on an Italian accent and claiming to be a film director or producer.

FILM

Ms Cottage said: "He hardly spoke about the film part and just kept on about his penis size and exposing his penis to her."

Clifford denies 11 counts of indecent assault relating to seven alleged victims between 1966 and 1984.

Ms Cottage told the jury of six women and six men at his trial in Southwark Crown Court in London: "This case concerns sexual assaults upon children and young people over a 20-year period. The defendant used his contact with famous people to bully and manipulate these young people into sexual acts with him.

"In his actions, we say he breached the trust of parents he had encouraged to trust him and young women working for him or seeking jobs in the world in which he worked."

Clifford, wearing a grey blazer with a white shirt and dark trousers, listened to proceedings from the glass-walled dock using a hearing loop and shook his head as some of the allegations were read out.

Describing him as 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.

"He is a man who likes to play games with people and you will hear evidence of the games that he played with these girls and young women.

"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."

The case, due to last six weeks, will hear not only from women to whom the charges relate, but others who would give evidence of the PR guru's "sexually predatory behaviour".

One woman whose allegations do not amount to a criminal offence alleges that Clifford promised her a part in US TV show 'Dynasty', and phoned her pretending to be Aaron Spelling and discussed the size of Clifford's penis.

When she visited Clifford's office again, the woman, then 19, claimed she was invited into his room where they discussed the telephone call and the reference to the size of his penis. The PR consultant again shook his head in the dock as Ms Cottage outlined the woman's claims that he then took his trousers down and put her hand on his penis, saying: "Is this the smallest one you've ever seen?" The publicist has denied knowing any of the women, but has said that if he had met them, nothing they described would have happened.

He has admitted having sexual encounters with "many women", the court heard, but claimed they were all consensual. But the prosecution allege that amongst other offences he forced himself on a girl, who was 14 at the time, in a car.

One charge relates to a young gymnast who claims she was targeted at Clifford's office. She spoke on the phone to a man claiming to be the actor Charles Bronson and, after the call, it is alleged Clifford pinned her down. Ms Cottage told the jury: "She was terrified and thought she was going to be raped.

DISTRESSED

"She was physically strong, she was able to kick him in the groin. She gathered her clothes and left, distressed."

Another of the alleged victims, who was 15 at the time, who says she met Clifford while on holiday in Spain in 1977, when he told her parents he could get her modelling work.

He pretended he had told actress Julie Christie about the girl, it was said, and she had told him to take the alleged victim's virginity because "then she would be loyal to him forever".

The jury heard that she was told to perform sex acts on Clifford, and that he had a photo of her giving him oral sex.

As the Jimmy Savile claims hit the headlines, the PR guru appeared on ITV's 'Daybreak', the court heard, which prompted the alleged victim to go to the police. Explaining why the complainants had not reported the alleged assaults at the time, the prosecutor told the court: "The 1960s, the 1970s and the '80s were very different times.

"Secretaries had to bite their lips when the boss patted their bottom and told them to 'run along, love, and make me a cup of tea'."

The case continues. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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