Max Clifford 'determined to clear his name' over new indecent assault allegation


Disgraced former celebrity publicist Max Clifford has told a jury he is determined to clear his name as he faces a fresh allegation of indecent assault.

Clifford was jailed for eight years in May 2014 after being convicted of a number of charges under Operation Yewtree, the Met Police investigation set up after the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Giving evidence on the first day of his defence for allegedly indecently assaulting a 17-year-old girl more than three decades ago, Clifford said he hired private investigators to help prove his innocence in this case and the previous trial two years ago - allegations he said "disgusted" him.

The 73-year-old said: "I was found guilty... I know I'm innocent. Hopefully one day I will be able to prove that.

"I know I was not guilty. One of the things I have learned (from the last trial) is you're guilty until you're proven innocent when sexual offences are involved.

"I have had the money to be able to employ private investigators for this trial. They are all ex-Met Police. They know the way police think and what they get up to."

Asked what he had tasked the private investigators with, Clifford replied simply: "To tell the truth."

The alleged victim in the latest trial claimed she was assaulted by Clifford at his Mayfair offices in New Bond Street between October 1981 and May 1982.

He allegedly locked the girl in his office and forced her to engage in a sexual act with him, the trial at Southwark Crown Court heard.

The alleged victim claimed that he put her hand on his penis and she said "I don't want to" but she "did as she was told" and only stopped when they were disturbed by a knock on the door.

Clifford appeared in the dock wearing a navy blue suit, white shirt, blue and red spotted tie and glasses, and sporting a white beard.

Asked by defence counsel Sarah Forshaw QC to respond to the historical allegation, Clifford said: "No, it didn't happen."

He said he would have been able to remember such an incident taking place.

Clifford told the jury he was not always faithful to his late wife of four decades, Liz, but insisted he loved her.

He said: "I had affairs, I'm not proud of it. But they went on for years. I have written all about this in my book 10 years ago."

He said he had "three main affairs" during a period of around 15 years.

Clifford, who denies indecent assault, said: "I was happily married, in spite of me playing away. 

"In 1981, if I remember rightly, it (the affair) was a French model. In terms of passion and sex, I was getting plenty."

The defendant, formerly of Hersham in Surrey, said his offices were frequently visited by aspiring models, pop stars and wannabes, who would be sexually interested in him "even if I looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame".

Asked about the allegation at his office, the defendant told the court: "There's no way it ever happened. She (the alleged victim) knows that as well."

He denied having ever made threats to "murder or kill" the victim, who told the court she feared for her life during the alleged incident.

Clifford also told jurors he had become "an equalities rep" at the Category C Littlehey Prison in East Anglia since his conviction two years ago.

He said: "It (prison) was a shock to the system, as you can expect. I can only compare it to being buried alive.

"Having had a very successful living, I have lost everything. The papers are full of it.

"At Littlehey Prison, I teach in education, I play tennis. I'm writing another book - all of these things.

"The emphasis at the prison is rehabilitation. I'm an equalities rep, if anyone has any racial issues or gender issues, I help them out."

He said he was transferred to Wandsworth Prison for this trial, where he said he has been kept in his cell for "23-and-a-half hours a day".

He told jurors: "It's a simple cell - no communications, no TVs, radio, it doesn't even have a kettle. When I arrived, the walls were covered in excrement."

Opening the defence case, Ms Forshaw said the "odds are stacked against Max Clifford", following his conviction in 2014 "at the height of the Operation Yewtree hysteria".

She said: "I'm not blind to the fact that we face an absolute uphill struggle. That has to be the understatement of the year.

"The cards were stacked against Max Clifford from before his trial."

She said her client "was never going to win a popularity contest", and that the "media circus" surrounding Operation Yewtree meant coverage of Clifford's conviction two years ago was "vitriolic".

She said: "A cynic might say someone in the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) thought they could chalk this (latest allegation) up as an easy victory for the bedevilled Yewtree."