Former public relations or PR guru Max Clifford has found himself at the center of a disastrous scandal that for once he is not able to keep out of the papers, his own. Clifford was pronounced guilty on Monday with eight counts of sexual assault with four different women, one of them as young as 15. However, the silver-tongued master of media manipulation was cleared of two additional charges with a further one count in limbo as the jury were unable to reach a verdict. However, Clifford reacted to the claims with a perplexing prank on one of the reporters outside the courthouse.
Clifford’s trial follows other high-profile cases of sexual abuse in decades past by men involved in show business. Most notably, the case of Jimmy Savile which prompted British police to set up “Operation Yewtree” in order to investigate child sex abuse.
The publicist to the stars Clifford, has represented some well-known faces in the past. He was on the side of controversial celebrities Simon Cowell, OJ Simpson and Frank Sinatra. He was known by many in the business as a “confidante” and managed stars at times when their careers were in crisis.
But in fact, these celebrity PR connections are what allowed Max Clifford to carry out his sexual assault. At the Southwark Crown Court, prosecutors reportedly stated that he would tell him victims that he would get them their own part in popular- at-the-time show Dynasty amongst others. He was found guilty of the repeated abuse of a 15 year-old girl whose family he befriended in Spain in 1977.Reportedly, he was able to avoid the disaster of her parents discovering what he was up to by informing the girl’s parents that he could make her “a star.”
The expert manipulation that Clifford used to his advantage when dealing with his celebrity clients, here was his undoing, as it showed that he was capable of controlling the situation with these young girls in order to get sexual gratification. He was known in the business to be able to turn a situation to his advantage, whether it was in order to protect his clients, or get them the publicity they craved. He reportedly would negotiate with editors to produce the story that was the most flattering for his clientèle.
Jenny Hopkins the prosecutor in the case is reported to have stated that she was very happy with the outcome of the trial. To her, the guilty verdict provided “justice” that had been “long-denied” to those who have suffered sexual abuse.
But how is the PR king Max Clifford taking the news? It is said that he has refuted all of the claims 11 from 1966 and 1985 and pronounced himself innocent, calling his arrest and trial a “nightmare.” However, it seems that he could not resist the lure of the spotlight. Moments after the trial had ended, he was seen wondering up behind a sky news reporter and imitating the reporter’s gestures. The behaviour seems baffling, as the reporter is just at that moment mentioning the harrowing experience that the young women are having to relive inside the courthouse.
It seems that Max Clifford is unable to stop himself from coveting the camera. The footage follows the pronouncement of a guilty verdict which the former PR genius appears to be taking very lightly. This may be all very well for him, but reflects poorly on any kind of concern felt towards the victims of his crimes of sexual assault. It can be said that they would have found aspects of their lives seriously altered as a result of his behaviour to them in the past. As such, his actions seem to be something of a disaster.
By Sara Watson