By News Express on 28/04/2014
Internationally respected PR guru Max Clifford is facing jail after being found guilty of a string of indecent assaults on teenage girls over a period of nearly 20 years.
The 71-year-old today became the first person to be convicted under the high profile Operation Yewtree sex crime investigation at Britain’s Southwark Crown Court.
He was found guilty of eight indecent assaults, cleared of two and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on one other.
He denied all the offences and continues to deny the outstanding charge, which the jury were unable to reach a decision on.
Clifford was arrested by detectives from Operation Yewtree in December 2012, and charged in April the following year.
The investigation, Scotland Yard’s inquiry into historic allegations of sexual offences, was prompted after claims were made against the late DJ Jimmy Savile.
The verdicts followed the jury being told by the judge last Wednesday that a 9-1 majority would be acceptable if they could not reach unanimous verdicts on any of the 11 charges.
Today’s verdicts were taken in a hushed but packed courtroom, given by the forewoman of the jury on its eighth day of deliberations.
Clifford sat still in the dock as the jury forewoman returned the verdicts. He could be seen breathing deeply as he listened through a hearing loop.
Clifford was released on bail until his sentencing on Friday, but Judge Anthony Leonard QC warned him this is no reflection on the sentence that will be passed.
The judge said: ‘You must realise that the fact I have given you bail is no indication of what the final sentence will be.’
Clifford left court without commenting. He posed for pictures flanked by supporters but told reporters: ‘I have been told by my lawyers not to say anything at all.’
Peter Watt, director of National Services at the NSPCC, said: ‘Max Clifford has rightly been unmasked as a ruthless and manipulative sex offender who preyed for decades on children and young women.
‘Clifford was a rich and influential man who dined with the stars but the way he manipulated and groomed his victims is typical of many sex offenders. He exploited their vulnerabilities, using lies and coercion to get what he wanted.
‘Throughout the court case Clifford has behaved dismissively and arrogantly towards his victims and the suffering he has caused them. He made them go through a long and painful court case and relive their traumatic experiences by not pleading guilty.
‘Many of his victims innocently came to him hoping he could make their dreams come true, dazzled by his celebrity connections. But he saw women and young girls as sexual objects for his own gratification. Instead of helping their bids for stardom he indecently assaulted them before casting them aside.
‘Intimidated by his power and wealth, many of his victims did not initially speak out. But the courage they have shown in telling police what had happened to them and giving evidence means they have finally got justice.’
During the trial prosecution had claimed Clifford was a ‘repulsive’ sex offender who sexually abused teenage girls.
Speaking after the guilty verdicts, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Orchard from Operation Yewtree said outside court: ‘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.
‘While this was a high profile trial, officers work tirelessly to being offenders of sexual abuse to justice on a daily basis.’
Jenny Hopkins, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said: ‘Today’s verdicts provide a long-denied justice to the victims of serious sexual offences.
‘I would like to thank these victims for having had the courage to come forward and give evidence. The victims of sexual abuse, whenever it may have taken place, should know that police and prosecutors will listen.
‘It is only right that we now take some time to consider our position on the hung count and we will update the court accordingly.’
During the trial, the prosecution had claimed the celebrity kiss-and-tell publicist took pleasure in degrading teenagers after he promised to make them Bond girls or TV stars.
The jury had heard from a number of alleged victims, who claimed Clifford used the same ‘pattern again and again’ of bragging about the celebrities he knew and the Hollywood careers he could forge before attacking them.
His central London office was his ‘sexual fiefdom’ and he also abused girls in his car, the prosecution had said.
It was alleged Clifford boasted of his links to stars to impress unsuspecting parents, and then breached their trust by molesting their daughters.
But the 71-year-old branded his accusers compensation-seekers and attention-hunters. He always denied 11 counts of indecently assaulting seven women aged 14 to 19, between 1966 and 1984.
•Adapted from MailOnline. Photo shows Max Clifford.
Source News Express
Posted 28/04/2014 9:30:06 PM
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