PR GURU Max Clifford has denied being a “sexual predator” as he appeared in court accused of a string of indecent assaults against teenage girls.
• Max Clifford denies 11 charges of historic sexual assault in court
• PR guru accused of sex offences against seven complainants aged between 14 and 19
The 70-year-old publicist vowed to clear his name and will stand trial on 11 charges of sexual abuse against seven girls and young women, aged between 14 and 19.
The allegations span a 19-year period between 1966 and 1985.
He was arrested in December as part of Operation Yewtree, the police inquiry set up after Jimmy Savile was exposed as a predatory paedophile with more than 450 victims.
Clifford was heckled by two protesters, one claiming to be a relative of one of his alleged victims, as he arrived at Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday morning, accompanied by his wife and former personal assistant, Jo Westwood.
He told waiting reporters “the last few months have been an absolute nightmare” as he was engulfed in a media scrum outside the court’s doors.
Clifford, of Hersham, Surrey, has strongly denied the allegations, saying that he is “totally innocent” of the allegations.
Appearing in the dock wearing a blue suit, white open-collar shirt and glasses, he spoke to confirm his name, date of birth, address and to plead not guilty to each of the 11 charges.
He stared calmly straight ahead throughout the ten- minute hearing.
Deborah Carr, prosecuting, branded Clifford a “sexual predator”. She said: “The Crown says this behaviour spanned 20 years, a period, as such, displaying a pattern of sexual predatory behaviour.
“Looking at the sentencing guidelines, the Crown submits that the defendant faces between five and six years if convicted on all the indictment.
“The Crown requests that this matter be sent to Southwark Crown Court.”
Paul Morris, defending, said: “Mr Clifford knows he is under considerable scrutiny and he is conducting himself with the utmost seriousness.”
District Judge Howard Riddle said: “Mr Clifford, you know the allegations against you. You are sent for trial at Southwark Crown Court.”
Clifford was released on conditional bail to appear at Southwark Crown Court on 12 June.
Under the terms of his bail, he must not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under 18, must live and sleep each night at his address, and not contact any of the alleged victims.
Speaking after the hearing and holding his wife’s hand, Clifford said: “This has been a nightmare. I am totally innocent of these allegations.”
Asked if he was a victim of a witch-hunt, he said: “That is not for me to say – you make your own mind up. All I know is that nobody had ever said anything about me at all before the Jimmy Savile situation.
“This is a nightmare for myself and my family, and has been since December, when I was arrested in a very, very public way and all of my accusers remain anonymous.
“What I have got to do now is to clear my name. These allegations are totally without foundation.”
Police are investigating three strands to Operation Yewtree – two involving Savile and a third termed “Others”.
Clifford falls into this third category, meaning he was not being questioned about anything connected to Savile.
The allegations relate to seven complainants:
• One offence of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 14, in 1966
• One of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 18, in 1974-75
• Three of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1977-78
• One of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 19, in 1978
• Two of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 16 or 17, in 1981-82
• One of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 19, in 1980-81
• Two of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 18, in 1984-85