Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Clifford attack 'ruined my career'

One of Max Clifford's teenage victims has spoken of how the PR guru's attack 30 years ago ruined her fledgling acting career.

The 17-year-old, now 48, said she became terrified of agents following the ordeal and turned down job offers.

Clifford was yesterday found guilty of a string of indecent assaults on teenage girls in the first conviction under sex crime inquiry Operation Yewtree.

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

The former teenage model told the court how she went to Clifford's office in the early 1980s and was told to pose in her underwear.

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, she said. He told her he would get her a part in a Bond film but she would have to sleep with Albert "Cubby" Broccoli.

She told The Sun: "I went to bed for four days. I was so traumatised I couldn't get up.

"I was terrified of other agents after that. I got one really lucrative job but didn't turn up because I was so scared.

"When I heard the verdict I wept tears of sadness."

Clifford had repeatedly denied all 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 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 other 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.

He offered to get them casting appointments, pretending to be Hollywood bigwigs including Steven Spielberg 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 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. 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, and 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.

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Orchard from Operation Yewtree said: " I would like to thank the victims for their courage and strength in coming forward to speak to us. I hope they feel and know that they were listened to."

Jenny Hopkins, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said the CPS would take time to consider its position on the hung count.

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 central London offices when he groped her and kissed her in 1975, and another who claimed she was groped in a taxi in 1978.

During the trial, the court heard from a number of women who were not on the indictment, either because their claims did not meet the criminal standard or what they alleged happened abroad, who were called as supporting prosecution witnesses.

The most serious claim came from a woman who said he had forced her to touch his penis when she was just 12 years old during a holiday in Spain.

Others described Clifford boasting about his celebrity connections.

One witness told the court Clifford made several "sexual" phone calls to her and said she had to "sleep her way to success". She went to a flat with him for some promotional photos, where he showed her his penis, the court heard.

Lawyer Liz Dux, who represents more than 150 people who have made complaints under Operation Yewtree, said the verdicts proved that the investigation is not a "witch-hunt", while Denise Marshall, chief executive of Eaves, a charity which campaigns against violence against women and girls, said prosecutors are right to pursue historic sex cases.

Peter Watt, director of National Services at the NSPCC, said: "Max Clifford has rightly been unmasked as a ruthless and manipulative sex offender."

One of the victims in the case, who had just turned 15 at the time of the assaults, said she was "relieved" that "justice had been done".

"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."


From Belfast Telegraph