‘You thought that you were untouchable’ - Max Clifford sentenced to eight years in jail
Published 02/05/2014 | 14:28
Disgraced PR guru Max Clifford has been jailed for eight years for a string of indecent assaults on four women.
The 71-year-old finally fell from grace after decades influencing the media when he was convicted of eight counts of the crime, carried out between 1977 and 1984, on Monday.
Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court today, Judge Anthony Leonard told him: "These offences may have taken place a long time ago, when inappropriate and trivial sexual behaviour was more likely to be tolerated, but your offending was not trivial, but of a very serious nature."
The judge said that due to the age of the offences that occurred between 1977 and 1984, Clifford was charged under an act from 1956, which set the maximum term at two years.
Under later legislation passed in 2003, the maximum term would have been 10 years, and for the worst instances would have been charged as rape or assault by penetration, which attract a maximum life term, the court heard.
Clifford repeatedly shook his head as the judge made his comments to a packed courtroom.
Judge Leonard added that he thought Clifford's personality and position in the public eye were why the crimes had not been made public sooner.
He said: "The reason why they were not brought to light sooner was because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment which meant that your victims thought that you were untouchable, something that I think you too believed."
Clifford, who branded his accusers "fantasists", remained defiant ahead of his sentencing, saying: "I stand by everything I have said in the last 17 months."
A string of his clients have moved to distance themselves from the veteran agent in the wake of his conviction, the first under the sex crime inquiry Operation Yewtree.
Some of Clifford's supporters, sitting behind the dock in the public gallery, broke down in tears as he was sentenced.
Describing his extensive charitable work, the judge said: "Although your charitable work has gone on for a long time after your offending stopped, I cannot ignore that for decades you were leading a double existence."
During his trial, prosecutors portrayed Clifford 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, 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.
She claimed he would go to her house, impressing her parents and speaking about how he could make her a star, before taking her out in his car and molesting her.
She later wrote him an anonymous letter saying he had made her life "a living hell".
Another alleged victim, who was an extra in the film Octopussy, claimed she was targeted at Clifford's office in 1981 or 1982, aged 19.
Clifford told her that actor Charles Bronson wanted pictures of her in her underwear to decide whether she could be in a film.
After she had spoken on the phone to a man claiming to be Bronson, Clifford pinned her down on a sofa, but she fought him off.
Another victim was an aspiring model who went to his office in the early 1980s, when she was in her late teens, and was told to pose in her underwear.
She said that as she took off her dress, he told her "What a turn-on", and groped her, and after a phone call with his wife tried to force her to perform oral sex, telling her he would get her a part in a Bond film but she would have to sleep with Cubby Broccoli.
An 18-year-old dancer was also targeted by the PR expert, who took her into a nightclub toilet in the early 1980s and forced her to touch his penis, saying "Who is going to believe you?".
She said Clifford persuaded her to take a phone call from someone who said if she wanted a screen test, she would have to tell him if Clifford was circumcised.
The court also heard from a number of women as supporting witnesses, whose allegations did not meet the criminal standard, or in one case happened abroad.
Two of them said Clifford was fixated on having a small penis, telling one woman who went to a film audition at Clifford's office when she was 19: "Look at my penis. Isn't it tiny? What can I do with this?"
The most serious claim came from a woman who said he forced her to touch his penis when she was just 12 years old during a holiday in Spain.
Judge Leonard said if this had not occurred in Spain, at a time when offences abroad could not be charged in the UK, Clifford would have been charged for indecently assaulting that girl too.
Other women described Clifford boasting about his celebrity connections - another woman, then 18, said he had told her she could meet David Bowie if she gave him oral sex.
The jury cleared Clifford of indecently assaulting another two women, and could not reach a verdict on a third. Prosecutors said this morning that they will not go for a retrial on that outstanding charge.