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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

Max Clifford - the Rise and Fall of the most famous PR man in Britain

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Max Clifford, the best-known PR man and a highly notable figure in the entertainment industry in Britain, was jailed for eight years on Friday, having been found guilty of eight counts of indecent assaults on women over a period of four decades.

The sudden fall from grace of Mr Clifford, 71, rekindles the old adage, what goes up must come down, regardless of the power the individual wielded in his heyday. When a jury of six men and four women found him guilty of the charges against him at the beginning of the week, the fate of Mr Clifford – and his PR business – was effectively sealed; Judge Anthony Leonard, the presiding judge, said that the accused would be sentenced on Friday – which he did while damning him for his lack of remorse despite the gravity of the charges against him.

On Friday, at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Clifford posed for photographs before entering the court while maintaining his ‘innocence’, which many saw as his arrogance bordering on defiance. Throughout the trail, his defence team tried to brand the women who stood up to him as liars, but to no avail.

Mr Clifford came under the spotlight, as the British police launched ‘Operation Yew Tree’ to come down hard on a string of celebrities, who abused their position to prey on vulnerable women. During the trial, his modus operandi was laid bare: how he showed his young victims, who aspired to be famous, the pie in the sky in return for sexual favours; some victims were as young as fifteen years.

Mr Clifford, the king of kiss ‘n’ Tell stories often acted as the middleman between someone who got a story and a newspaper which was interested in it; he brokered a significant number of deals while bringing down politicians, sport personalities, and major celebrities. When concerns were raised about the ‘collateral damage’ – immediate family members and children of the men and women who became headlines – Mr Clifford just shrugged them off by saying that he was simply doing his job.

The fact of the matter, however, is that he was doing much more than his job. In 1992, Mr Clifford brought the career of David Mellor, a cabinet minister of the then Conservative government, to an abrupt end by exposing his affair with Antonia de Sancha, an actress.

The newspaper, which broke the news at that time, described how Mr Mellor made love while wearing a top of the Chelsea Football Club, among many other things. A few years later the actress admitted most of the things were actually made up, while leaving the PR guru in a very uncomfortable position. The critics of Mr Clifford – he has many – immediately seized the opportunity to highlight his ability to spice things up in order to dramatize – and then sell the papers, of course.

During the trial, the pendulum of attention hovered over the graphic details of Mr Clifford’s manhood, which at times triggered off fits of laughter among female jury members. At one point, the judge was compelled to send them out to regain their composure. The issue of the size of Mr Clifford’s manhood stemmed from the fact that his victims gave varying dimensions of the anatomy in question, which, in turn filled the courtroom with unusual form of humour. Ultimately, the barrister who defended Mr Clifford, provided the court with the exact measurements that came from his family doctor.

As soon as Mr Clifford was sentenced, the celebrities, who once adored him, started deserted him in droves. Simon Cowell, for instance, was one of them. By the weekend, Mr Clifford’s company website had been suspended.

Throughout the trial, Mr Clifford was exposed as a dangerously-manipulative individual, who had been determined to have his way to make his millions. Time and again, even before the trial he showed that he had all the psychological ingredients to fit into the brutal periphery of the world of showbiz, while turning his back on every known pillar of decency.

Unfortunately, his luck ran out at an unexpected time and he got entangled in the fabric of Law of Karma. He has plenty of time to reflect on the way he behaved at the expense of huge army of sufferers while behind bars for eight years.

- Asian Tribune -

Max Clifford - the Rise and Fall of the most famous PR man in Britain
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