Clifford trial 'haunted by Savile'

Witney Gazette: Max Clifford leaving Southwark Crown Court in London as his trial continues Max Clifford leaving Southwark Crown Court in London as his trial continues

The trial of public relations guru Max Clifford is "haunted by the spectre of Jimmy Savile", his barrister has said.

Richard Horwell QC said the publicist had admitted having affairs but his "sex life and adulterous relationships are not on trial", as he delivered his closing speech at London's Southwark Crown Court.

Clifford, 71, is accused of 11 counts of indecent assault against seven girls and women - all of which he denies.

Referring to the late Radio 1 DJ - who died before sexual abuse allegations against him came to light - Mr Horwell said: "This trial has been haunted by the spectre of Jimmy Savile.

"The Jimmy Savile effect cannot be ignored.

"Why are wealthy celebrities the subject of these accusations?

"Why do the prosecution have to portray women as lacking in resolve and irrational when they plainly are not?

"Why does the defendant always have to be a predator when the evidence indicates he is not?"

Mr Horwell told the jury that the prosecution in the trial had been "obsessed with Mr Clifford's sex life".

"Yes, it was not conventional, whatever that might mean," he said.

"But his sex life and adulterous relationships are not on trial here.

"He liked sex. He had a number of sexual partners.

"He worked in an environment where most people were having affairs and that way of life seemed normal.

"He told you the sex he had had always been consensual.

"If Mr Clifford was this Olympic-standard sexual athlete, having sex with any woman of his choosing, what on earth was he doing troubling himself with unattractive and forced sexual liaisons in his tiny office, in his car, in a taxi? It doesn't make sense, does it?"

Mr Horwell said it amounted to "grubby voyeurism".

"It's fifth-rate fiction that not even Mills and Boon would countenance," he said.

The suggestion that women in the 1970s and '80s were "subordinate" would have feminist Emmeline Pankhurst "turning in her grave", the barrister added.

Referring to Clifford's 2005 autobiography, Mr Horwell said: "A man who is ashamed of his past, with something to hide, is hardly likely to have an autobiography released which exposed his past life and affairs. Where is the sense in that?"

Mr Horwell said the accusers had "enjoyed anonymity" throughout the trial and faced no financial cost.

Meanwhile, Clifford's name had been "published in newspapers and on television screens across the land" as he faced "many months of misery", the lawyer said.

"Hardly a level playing field," said Mr Horwell.

Wearing a light blue blazer and white shirt, Clifford, from Hersham in Surrey, listened from the dock with the aid of a hearing loop.

Earlier, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC finished her closing speech, describing Clifford as a "master in the art of intimidation and manipulation".

She said: "In every case his actions were sudden, unexpected and, frankly, in some cases so bizarre you may think these young women and girls have no idea how to react."

Ms Cottage said Clifford was a "risk-taker" and had an "arrogant confidence he could get away with almost anything".

"He has managed to portray himself in different ways to different ways to different people but don't be fooled," she told the jury.

Mr Horwell said an allegation that Clifford abused one of his alleged victims in his yellow Jaguar car "borders on lunacy".

"That's not risk-taking," he said.

"That's demanding to be noticed and demanding to be arrested."

The barrister said it was "not surprising" that Clifford suspected an anonymous letter from the woman years later "may have been blackmail".

He told the jury: "If Mr Clifford had abused (the woman), he is hardly likely to have shown the letter to his daughter Louise and wife Joan.

"If he had been guilty he would have destroyed that letter and it would never have seen the light of day again."

The evidence of one woman in the case that Clifford's penis is "freakishly small" and two and a half inches when erect is "inexplicable", Mr Horwell said.

The jury has previously heard that a doctor has measured Clifford's penis at five and a quarter inches when flaccid.

Mr Horwell said: "The only explanation for this part of (the woman's) evidence is she can never have seen Mr Clifford's erect penis."

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

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