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Max Clifford found guilty of sex charges

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 28, 2014

MaxClifford

Publicist Max Clifford, 70, from Hersham in Surrey, arrives at Southwark Crown Court. Photo credit should read: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

PR guru Max Clifford has been found guilty of a string of indecent assaults on teenage girls over a period of nearly 20 years.

The 71-year-old became the first person to be convicted under the high profile Operation Yewtree sex crime investigation at Southwark Crown Court today.

He was found guilty of eight indecent assaults, cleared of two and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on one other.

Clifford repeatedly denied the claims, calling his arrest and prosecution "a nightmare" and protesting his innocence.

He 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 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.

He walked out of the courtroom with friends and supporters in complete silence, one of them patting him on the shoulder as he walked.

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.

He 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: “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.”

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