Monday 16 September 2019

Disgraced PR guru Clifford fails to win a ruling blocking privacy claim against him

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of a custody photograph of Max Clifford
Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of a custody photograph of Max Clifford

DISGRACED PR guru Max Clifford has failed to win a ruling blocking a privacy claim brought against him at London's High Court by former royal butler Paul Burrell.

Clifford, who is currently serving an eight-year jail sentence for sex offences, branded Burrell's action for breach of confidence and misuse of private information as an ''affront to common sense".

Mr Burrell claimed that he hired Clifford in 2001 to limit bad press coverage about him but, rather than stopping stories, the publicist passed on material to the now-defunct News of the World.

Clifford's case was that their agreement was for him to sell information to a newspaper and the fax was a "teaser".

Last month, Clifford's counsel, Lorna Skinner told Mr Justice Mann at London's High Court that the claim for up to £50,000 damages and an injunction was brought outside the legal time limit and would be a waste of court resources.

Clifford sent the contentious fax of a personal letter written to him by Mr Burrell to editor Rebekah Brooks in November 2002 - the day after Mr Burrell was acquitted at the Old Bailey of stealing items belonging to the late Princess Diana - who passed it on to royal correspondent Clive Goodman.

Ms Skinner described its content, about Mr Burrell's relationship with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, as mainly "tittle-tattle", which was not published and which Mr Burrell himself was willing to trade in a book he wrote a year later.

Putting the real value of the claim at less than £10,000, she said there was no evidence of any financial benefit accruing to Clifford and that the litigation had become a "costs driven exercise".

But, Mr Burrell's counsel, William Bennett, told the court during the hearing: "Clifford says that Mr Burrell should be sent from this court with his tail between his legs and receive no vindication having failed in his claim - which was that Clifford had been guilty of a very, very serious misuse of private information and confidence.

"The outrageousness of it is that Clifford was retained to keep secrets, not to tell them to the media and, it is so serious because, if one goes back to 2002, the worst person in the UK for this to be sent to is Rebekah Brooks.

"It is all very well saying it has only been sent to one person, but when that was the editor of the News of the World, the fax was being sent to the biggest selling Sunday tabloid in the country, which adds to the grossness of the misuse of the private information."

PA Media

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