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Campaigners back eight-year jail term for Clifford sex crimes

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the eight-year jail term handed to Max Clifford for a string of indecent assaults on four women, saying that it sends a clear message that victims of historic abuse can achieve justice.

NO REMORSE: Max Clifford's behaviour during the trial was described as extraordinary and contemptuous by Judge Leonard. Picture: Reuters
NO REMORSE: Max Clifford's behaviour during the trial was described as extraordinary and contemptuous by Judge Leonard. Picture: Reuters

The disgraced celebrity ­publicist finally fell from grace after decades of influencing the media when he was convicted of eight counts of the crime, carried out between 1977 and 1984, on Monday.

Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Anthony Leonard criticised Clifford for his arrogance and told him his personality and position in the public eye were the reasons his crimes were not revealed earlier.

Judge Leonard said: "The reason why they were not brought to light sooner was because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment which meant that your victims thought that you were untouchable, something that I think you too believed.

"These offences may have taken place a long time ago, when ­inappropriate and trivial sexual behaviour was more likely to be tolerated, but your offending was not trivial, but of a very serious nature."

Victim Support said it was the compelling testimony of the women Clifford abused that convicted him - women he described as liars and fantasists.

Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive at Victim Support, said: "This prison term reflects the impact the crimes Max ­Clifford committed had on his victims and the courage they showed in finding the strength to give evidence against him."

Clifford's was the first ­conviction under the sex crime inquiry Operation Yewtree and the NSPCC said the substantial sentence sent a clear message that victims of historic abuse can achieve justice.

Peter Watt, director of the NSPCC helpline, said: "It's clear the judge has recognised the pain and suffering Clifford caused and the additional distress he put his victims through by forcing them to relive their ordeal in court.

"As we heard in the trial, ­Clifford seriously damaged many years of their lives, with some being left suicidal by their terrible experiences at his hands.

"The sentence today, and those of other recent cases up and down the country, sends a clear message that victims of non-recent abuse can get justice. All allegations, however long after the abuse took place, must be investigated and assessed by the police and CPS, with victims fully supported."

However, Simon McKay, a ­criminal human rights lawyer at McKay Law, said he was very surprised at the length of the sentence, as it "creates the opportunity for the sentence to be appealed". He added: "I don't think that's good for the victims."

Clifford's solicitor said he was seriously considering an appeal against the sentence and conviction.

Judge Leonard said that, due to the age of the offences, that occurred between 1977 and 1984, Clifford was charged under an act from 1956, which set the maximum term for each charge at two years.

The former celebrity agent had remained defiant ahead of his sentencing, saying: "I stand by everything I have said in the last 17 months."

During his trial, prosecutors portrayed Clifford as a well-practised manipulator, who promised to boost his victims' careers and get them to meet celebrities in exchange for sexual favours.

He offered to get them casting appointments, pretending to be Hollywood chiefs including Steven Spielberg, James Bond film producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Michael Winner on the phone.

Judge Leonard condemned ­Clifford's "contemptuous" behaviour during the trial, referring to a strange encounter when he was filmed mimicking Sky News reporter Tom Parmenter as he recorded a piece to camera outside the court.

The judge said: "I find your behaviour to be quite extraordinary and a further indication you show no remorse."

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