British PR Guru Max Clifford Convicted Of Sexual Assault, Shows Zero Remorse
On Friday, famed United Kingdom celebrity publicist Max Clifford was sentenced to eight years in prison, following his conviction Monday on charges of multiple sexual assaults against teenage and young girls. Clifford is the first person to be convicted as a result of Operation Yewtree, the investigation by Britain's Metropolitan Police Service into the crimes of disgraced, deceased BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, whose death in 2011 preceded a deluge of child sex abuse allegations, against him and others. Within months of Savile's horrific crimes being laid bare — he's now thought to be Britain's most prolific sexual predator, with some 450 claims against him — Clifford was snapped up by the MPS investigation, and charged with two sexual offenses dating back to 1977.
The charges against Clifford expanded in April 2012, when 11 additional allegations of sexual assault were brought forward, young girls he victimized from 1966 through 1985. He was ultimately convicted for eight of the offenses, and for that trouble received an eight-year sentence — a length that's sure to seem curiously short for anti-abuse advocates and average observers alike, amounting to just one year per victim. Clifford's lawyer has indicated an appeal is being considered.
It's a steep tumble from grace for the man who was once the UK's highest-profile, most sought-after publicist, at times seeming to gleefully court controversy, representing famously troubled clients like OJ Simpson in the aftermath of his murder acquittal. He's long prided himself on discretion and spin, having worked to conceal the sexuality of gay and bisexual football players, as well.
Clifford's behavior has been eccentric following his arrest and throughout his trial. His reported courtroom demeanor was guarded, aside from his reaction to the testimony of an elderly father of a 12-year-old girl Clifford allegedly abused in Spain in 1983. Clifford reacted strongly, calling the allegation "disgusting," and glared at the incensed father as he left the courtroom. Perhaps his most bewildering move, however, was sneaking up behind an on-camera Sky News reporter talking about his trial, and mimicking his gestures.
The filmed incident was lambasted by Judge Leonard, who said Clifford's odd joke showed his lack of regrets: "I find your behavior quite extraordinary and a further indication that you show no remorse."
Even before charges were brought against him in December 2012, it seemed like Clifford's usually sharp sense of PR had dulled. With the expanding investigation into Jimmy Savile's abuse well underway, and Clifford surely knowing he could get swept up in the fracas, he nonetheless delivered this interview speculating about the scope of the investigation and talking about his own proximity to people "scared to death" about it.
In light of what's now known about Clifford's history of abuse, the conversation is chilling.
Clifford is 71 years old, and according to Judge Leonard should be expected to serve at least half of his sentence in prison.