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Max Clifford found guilty of sexual assaults

By Margaret Davis

One of the victims of Max Clifford – who had just turned 15 at the time the PR guru abused her – has said she is relieved that "justice had been done" after he was found guilty of a string of indecent assaults.

The 71-year-old celebrity publicist was convicted of eight indecent assaults and cleared of two at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, with the jury unable to reach a verdict on one other count.

It marked the first conviction under sex crime inquiry Operation Yewtree.

Clifford had repeatedly denied the claims, calling his arrest and prosecution "a nightmare" and branding his accusers "fantasists".

The verdicts were taken in a hushed but packed courtroom, given by the forewoman of the jury on its eighth day of deliberations. Clifford sat still in the dock as his fate was revealed, breathing deeply as he listened through a hearing loop.

His daughter Louise showed no emotion as the damning verdicts were given. The media expert then walked out of the courtroom with friends and supporters in complete silence, one of them patting him on the shoulder.

He was released on bail until his sentencing on Friday, but Judge Anthony Leonard QC warned him that he may face jail.

He said: "You must realise that the fact I have given you bail is no indication of what the final sentence will be."

The court heard from a string of women who testified about Clifford's behaviour, romping naked in his New Bond Street office.

Prosecutors portrayed him as a well-practised manipulator, who promised to boost his victims' careers and get them to meet celebrities in exchange for sexual favours.

One of the victims in the case, who had just turned 15 at the time of the assaults, welcomed the verdicts.

"When I think of him he makes me shudder and he makes me feel ill," she told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"He was an opportunist. He saw a vulnerable person and took advantage of somebody who was a child, and it was awful.

"It was a nightmare and it had huge implications for me as a young person."

"To see him then go on to become very high-profile, to speak openly about other paedophiles and damn them and create a persona of a respectable high-profile man, who was lauded by the media, was sickening to say the least."

The jury could not reach a verdict on a count involving a woman who claimed Clifford groped her in his car after meeting her at a Wimpy bar in Morden, south London, in 1966.

He was cleared of another two allegations – one woman who said she was pushed up against a wall in his London offices when he groped her and kissed her in 1975, and another who claimed she was groped in a taxi in 1978.

Clifford spoke only briefly to waiting journalists as he left court, grim-facedly posing for pictures flanked by supporters, and ignoring reporters' questions. He told journalists: "I have been told by my lawyers not to say anything at all."

As he walked towards his waiting car Clifford was asked what it felt like to be the story, and replied it was "not the first time".

Jenny Hopkins, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said: "I would like to thank these victims for having had the courage to come forward and give evidence. The victims of sexual abuse, whenever it may have taken place, should know that police and prosecutors will listen."

BACKGROUND

Clifford offered to get his victims 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 manhood.

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 come round 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.

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