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Clifford always charming - O'Connor

Public relations guru Max Clifford was "charming" and acted with "integrity", chat show host Des O'Connor said today.

The 82-year-old entertainer told London's Southwark Crown Court that Clifford was "always pleasant and friendly" when he attended filming for the Des O'Connor Tonight show.

Clifford, 71, is standing trial accused of 11 counts of indecent assault against seven girls and women - all of which he denies.

O'Connor, who hosted the Des O'Connor Tonight show from 1977 to 2002, said Clifford would visit ITV's Teddington studios when his client was appearing as a guest.

The pair first met in the 1980s and the publicist would often attend the show with comedian Freddie Starr, who was a regular guest, O'Connor said.

The Take Your Pick host told the court that Clifford was "always pleasant, friendly - that was it".

Asked whether he ever witnessed Clifford act unprofessionally, O'Connor replied: "Never. I don't think he would ever need to in any shape or form.

"He was just there to accompany his client if there was any problem."

O'Connor said he became friends with the publicist after he and his wife were invited to charity functions in the early 2000s.

"It impressed me he cared," O'Connor said.

"He was genuinely, genuinely concerned about the illnesses of the children."

O'Connor said Clifford was "always pleasant, always charming".

He told the court: "I find it hard to imagine him being anything other than caring, concerned and generally good company."

He added: "I can't imagine him being anything other than honest and with integrity.

"I always found him the man he appeared to be - pleasant, friendly, helpful, kind."

O'Connor, wearing a dark suit, shirt and tie, said he had not had any dealings with Clifford's PR company.

"He's never booked me a date or got me any column inches in newspapers," he said.

Wearing a light grey blazer and red striped shirt, Clifford, from Hersham in Surrey, listened from the dock with the aid of a hearing loop.

His daughter, Louise, who has appeared as a defence witness in the trial, sat in the public gallery.

Professor Ray Powles, who worked at the Royal Marsden Hospital in west London, said Clifford arranged for boxing star Muhammad Ali to meet his patients.

In a statement read to the court, he said: "This was a surprise visit.

"The effect it had on my patients was inspirational."

The publicist had raised a "significant amount" for the cancer-specialist hospital and also arranged for boyband Westlife and former Wimbledon tennis champion Pat Cash to visit the children's unit, Prof Powles said.

Richard Horwell QC, defending Clifford, told the jury that an agreed fact in the case was that a doctor had measured his client's penis at an "average" length of five and a quarter inches when flaccid.

The jury has heard claims that Clifford has a "micro-penis" measuring two-and-a-half inches, while one woman told the court the publicist's penis was "enormous".

Concluding the defence case, Mr Horwell said Dr Ann Coxon measured the celebrity agent's penis last month and it was "within the average range for a Caucasian male of Mr Clifford's age".

"In all probability, it could have reduced a little in size over the last 30 years," he said.

Mr Horwell said it was also agreed that Clifford has "no previous convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings".

Delivering her closing speech, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC said the alleged victims had "no reason to lie" after giving evidence about Clifford's "varying degrees of degrading and embarrassing behaviour".

"Can you imagine what courage was needed to speak out against a man apparently courted by the famous and wealthy, with newspapers and media hanging on his every word?" she asked the jury.

"A man confident enough in the witness box to laugh at his accusers."

Ms Cottage pointed to the similar "themes" of the allegations and said some of the women had spoken out "long before Savile" and the resulting "media furore".

"These are not wannabes in the witness box," she said.

"They're here to give evidence in a criminal trial."

Ms Cottage said "inconsistencies" about the size of Clifford's penis had been used by the defence to "deflect" from important evidence.

"What was said about his penis and what he did with it is what's important, not the size," she said.

Ms Cottage said sex had taken "centre stage" in Clifford's personal and professional life.

"In his words, 'sex sells'," she told the jury.

The prosecutor said Clifford "reluctantly agreed" in court to the description in his book of "sex parties" he attended in the 1970s and 80s and admitted covering up sex orgies for others in his PR role.

The barrister described Clifford as an "arrogant character" who became "even more outrageous" in one alleged assault in which he claimed to be working for James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli.

"This daring, chancing patter is a theme that runs through allegation after allegation," she said.

"This name-dropping runs throughout. He does it all the time.

"He can't seem to stop himself... the defendant's way of reinforcing his importance."

Clifford shook his head in the dock.

Ms Cottage said two "completely unconnected women" had both claimed Clifford had spoken to them about his "tiny" penis.

One woman had recalled that Clifford told her, "if you touch it, it will grow,", the prosecutor said.

"How pathetic, but we say, how true," she said.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.


From Belfast Telegraph