Publicist Max Clifford has been found guilty of eight counts of indecent assault after the jury delivered its verdict earlier today. Jurors in the trial had been informed by the judge they could return a majority verdict on the case. That meant the 10-person jury could reach a decision with a majority of nine to one. Clifford was found not guilty on two charges and the jury failed to reach a decision on the other charge – 11 in total.
Clifford, who is known for the numerous famous clients he has represented over the years, was caught up in a police investigation into sexual abuse allegations called Operation Yewtree. The broad investigation into a number of well-known British and British based faces began following the death of BBC disc jockey, Jimmy Savile. After Savile died, numerous of people came forward and claimed the broadcaster was guilty of historic sexual offenses against them. As a result, fellow BBC DJ Dave Lee Travis, Australian artist Rolf Harris and TV actor Bill Roache were just some of the names accused of similar offenses. Apart from veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall, who admitted his guilt and was stripped of his OBE in the process and Travis, who is due back in court on one more charge, all those tried so far have been found innocent of all charges. However, Max Clifford has been found guilty on eight counts after the jury delivered its verdict.
Judge Leonard also advised the jury to refrain from taking into account the other high-profile cases when reaching a verdict. When asked why he thought he was in front of judge and jury if he was innocent, Clifford said he did not know but it may be because there are a lot of people out there who do not like him. While many people praise Clifford for his success and the fact he does so much for charity, there are others who do not approve of the work he does – protecting people from press intrusion. The view taken by some is he should not stop people from being exposed for the severity of their actions. His own relationship with the press was there to see throughout the trial as he continued to stop for pictures as he went in and out of court to face questioning.
Now that the Max Clifford jury has delivered a guilty verdict, it will go some way to restoring the reputation of, and faith in, the Crown Prosecution Service, which has been criticized for the amount of non-guilty verdicts owing to lack of or weak evidence. Standing outside Southwark Crown Court in London, Clifford faced the cameras but told the waiting press his lawyers advised him to say nothing. Clifford, who lives in the affluent county of Surrey, has had a number of high-profile clients over the years, such as former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, singer Frank Sinatra and more recently A&R man Simon Cowell. Clifford also did some work with rock band the Beatles back in the 1960s. He will be sentenced on Friday.
By Robert Shepherd