Friday 20 September 2019

Disgraced PR guru Clifford dies after falls in prison cell

Max Clifford. Photo: PA
Max Clifford. Photo: PA

Danica Kirka

Disgraced celebrity publicist Max Clifford died aged 74 yesterday after collapsing in prison.

Once one of the most powerful figures in British entertainment, Clifford was convicted in 2014 of eight counts of indecent assault stemming from attacks on teenagers dating back more than 40 years.

He was serving an eight-year prison sentence at Littlehey Prison in Cambridgeshire when he died.

Clifford was once as well known as the people he represented - the go-to guy for celebrities looking to limit the damage from drug problems, legal issues or declining popularity.

His clients included TV mogul Simon Cowell and former Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed, as well as dozens of ordinary people who found themselves in the news vortex and sought to sell their stories to the media.

The PR guru was arrested in December 2012 amid allegations that he lured girls as young as 14 into sex by offering them acting roles. Clifford immediately swung into damage-control mode, vowing to clear his name of the charges, some of which stemmed from the 1970s and 1980s.

"The allegations in respect of which I have been charged are completely false - very upsetting, very distressing, but completely false," he told reporters outside his home at the time. "I have never indecently assaulted anyone in my life, and this will become clear during the course of the proceedings."

Clifford (right) was arrested as part of an investigation called Operation Yewtree, a wide-ranging inquiry into allegations of past offences spurred by the horrific abuse by Jimmy Savile.

Before he was arrested, Clifford said he had received calls from many celebrities worried they would be caught up in the widening Savile investigation.

"They're phoning me and saying, 'Max, I'm worried that I'm going to be implicated,'" Clifford said at the time. "A lot of them can't remember what they did last week, never mind 30 or 40 years ago."

Clifford's daughter Louise said yesterday her father first collapsed on Thursday as he was trying to tidy his prison cell. He collapsed again the following day and was taken to a hospital, where he suffered a heart attack.

She said he had been in a "bad way" in a critical care unit.

"It was just too much," she said.

Irish Independent

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