Max Clifford

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Max Clifford
Max Clifford at National Fundraising Convention 2011 crop.jpg
Clifford at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention in 2011
BornMaxwell Frank Clifford
(1943-04-06) 6 April 1943 (age 71)
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Years active1970–2014
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Porter (m. 19672003) (her death)
Jo Westwood (m. 2010–14)[1]
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Max Clifford
Max Clifford at National Fundraising Convention 2011 crop.jpg
Clifford at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention in 2011
BornMaxwell Frank Clifford
(1943-04-06) 6 April 1943 (age 71)
Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, England
Years active1970–2014
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Porter (m. 19672003) (her death)
Jo Westwood (m. 2010–14)[1]

Maxwell Frank "Max" Clifford[2] (born 6 April 1943) is an English former publicist,[3] once considered the highest-profile and best known in the United Kingdom.[4] In his career he had a range of clients and was a controversial figure, due to his representation of unpopular clients (such as those accused or convicted of crimes) and his work for people wishing to sell "kiss-and-tell" stories to tabloid newspapers.

Clifford was arrested in December 2012 by Metropolitan Police officers on suspicion of sexual offences; the arrest was part of Operation Yewtree. After further investigation, he was tried in March 2014[5] and found guilty of 8 indecent assaults on girls and women aged 14–19. In May he was sentenced to eight years in prison.[6][7] He is currently incarcerated at HM Prison Littlehey.[8]

Early life[edit]

Clifford was born in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey,[2] in 1943.[2][9] His parents were Frank Clifford, an electrician, and Lilian (née Boffee).[9] Born into a poor family, Clifford was the youngest of four children[10] (eldest sister, two brothers) by nearly 10 years to his next sibling. The family survived their father's regular bouts of unemployment, gambling and alcoholism through handouts from their grandmother and latterly from his sister's employment as PA to the London Vice President of Morgan Guarantee Trust Bank.[2]

Leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, and after being sacked within four months of his first job at Ely's department store in Wimbledon, Clifford's brother Bernard used his print union connections to secure Max a job as editorial assistant on the Eagle comic. When the publication moved premises, Clifford took redundancy and bought his first house and got work with the South London Press to train as a journalist.[2]


Early work as a publicist[edit]

After working in newspapers for a few years, writing an occasional record/music column and running a disco, Clifford replied to an advertisement and joined as the second member of the EMI press office in 1962,[10] under Chief Press Officer Syd Gillingham. As the youngest and the only trained journalist in a team of four, Clifford claims he was given the job of promoting an unknown and unwanted group called the Beatles early in their career, including on their first tour of the United States.[2]

After Gillingham left EMI, he asked Clifford to join him at Chris Hutchins' PR agency.[2] Among the artists they represented were Paul and Barry Ryan, who introduced Clifford to their stepfather, impresario Harold Davidson, who handled the UK affairs of Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.[2]

In 1970, aged 27, and after Gillingham retired, Clifford left Hutchins and started his own agency named Max Clifford Associates.[2] Based in the offices of Joe Cocker's manager, he started off by representing Sinatra, Cocker, Paul and Barry Ryan, Don Partridge, and Marvin Gaye. He later also represented Muhammad Ali and Marlon Brando.[2]

Pamella Bordes[edit]

Clifford was approached by a friendly madam of a brothel who had provided Clifford's client[which?] with various services, worried about publicity from an investigative reporter from the News of the World. Clifford asked the madam to reveal details of her girls and clients, and found that one prostitute, Pamella Bordes, was simultaneously dating Andrew Neil (then editor of The Sunday Times), Donald Trelford (then editor of The Observer), Conservative minister for sport Colin Moynihan, and billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.[11][12][13] Clifford rang News of the World editor Patsy Chapman and drip-fed her the story of Bordes through the investigative reporter she was using on the madam. The story was published in March 1989 under the headline "Call Girl Works in Commons", since it was discovered she had a House of Commons security pass arranged by MPs David Shaw and Henry Bellingham. Clifford claims Bordes was never his client, and that he earned his fee for "writing" the story, which ultimately served the purpose of saving the madam from any adverse publicity or court case.[2]


Clifford came to public attention after creating the infamous "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" headline for The Sun in an effort to draw attention to his client, Freddie Starr.[14] In May 2006 the BBC nominated "Freddie Starr ate my hamster" as one of the most familiar British newspaper headlines over the last century.[15] Clifford has since represented various clients, including former Liverpool left-wing politician Derek Hatton, for whom Clifford created an affair in order to change his image;[2] O.J. Simpson[14]—Clifford claims to have received death threats while acting as his publicist;[2] Gillian McKeith, whose adverts he believed harmed her image;[16] Rebecca Loos, when she negotiated with the press about her alleged affair with England football captain David Beckham;[2] and Jade Goody, in the period of the reality star's cervical cancer and death.[17] Clifford represented Simon Cowell for over a decade and was credited with shaping his public image; Cowell dropped Clifford following his 2014 conviction.[18]

Journalist Louis Theroux followed Clifford in the BBC Two 2002 programme When Louis Met... Max Clifford. During filming, it appeared that Clifford was trying to set up Theroux during a PR stunt in Sainsbury's. It backfired after Clifford was heard on his microphone lying, unaware it was still on. Clifford represented a witness in the case against Gary Glitter.[19] In July 2005 he told reporters that he would not represent Michael Jackson after he was found innocent of child abuse charges, saying: "It would be the hardest job in PR after [representing] Saddam Hussein".[20]

Gay clients[edit]

Clifford gave assistance to clients who wish to conceal their sexual orientation from the public. Clifford claimed that he has been approached twice by major football clubs to help make players present a "straight" image.[21] In an interview with Pink News reported on 5 August 2009, Clifford said that if a gay football player came out, his career would be over: "To my knowledge there is only one top-flight professional gay footballer who came out – Justin Fashanu. He ended up committing suicide. I have been advising a top premiership star who is bisexual. If it came out that he had gay tendencies, his career would be over in two minutes. Should it be? No, but if you go on the terraces and hear the way fans are, and also, that kind of general attitude that goes with football, it’s almost like going back to the dark ages."[22] Clifford has said so far none of his clients has been outed.[2]

In December 2009, he told The Independent on Sunday that he has represented two high-profile gay Premier League footballers in the past five years and has advised them to stay in the closet because football "remains in the dark ages, steeped in homophobia".[23]


Clifford states that what motivates him is much more than just money - he says he cannot stand hypocrisy in public life, and reserves a particular disgust for lying politicians, and watched with growing anger what he thought happened to the health service over the past 20 years.[2] For this reason, and because of his working class background, Clifford is a traditional Labour supporter who worked to bring down the government of Major because he felt that the National Health Service was being mismanaged.[2]

The Major government[edit]

In light of Clifford's view of the deteriorating state of the NHS - having dealt to obtain treatment for his daughter, who has juvenile idiopathic arthritis[2] - and the moral difference with members of the John Major government, Clifford worked to expose stories to help the Labour Party in to power. Although not instrumental in exposing David Mellor's affair with Antonia de Sancha, Clifford's battle in representing de Sancha against the contrived post-spin story of the "family man Mellor" handled by counter PR Tim Bell ultimately derailed Major's 'Back to Basics' agenda. Clifford invented the story which claimed Mellor made love in Chelsea F.C. football kit, though he was blocked from mentioning it in his memoirs.[24] Clifford also helped to expose Jeffrey Archer's perjury in the 1980s during his candidacy for the post of Mayor of London.[2]

In 2005, Clifford paid damages to settle defamation proceedings brought by Neil and Christine Hamilton after he represented a woman who was later found to have falsely accused the Hamiltons of sexual assault.[25]

The Blair government[edit]

Although a supporter of the Labour party, Clifford's approach in dealing with the Blair government was similar to that which he employed with Major's preceding Conservative government. The first instance of this was the story of Welsh Assembly leader Ron Davies.[2] Then Clifford was accused by David Blunkett at the beginning of November 2005 of having a role in his second resignation. This derived from claims made on behalf of a much younger woman, who had become involved with Blunkett, over Blunkett's business interests, which were published in The Times.[2] Later that week Clifford was accused of arranging a distraction from the assault made by his friend Rebekah Wade on her husband, EastEnders actor Ross Kemp, via the "coincidence" of the other "Mitchell brother", Steve McFadden being in a similar incident with an ex-partner. Clifford denied all responsibility.[2]

On 26 April 2006, Clifford represented John Prescott's diary secretary Tracey Temple, in selling her story for "an awful lot more" than £100,000 to the Mail on Sunday. The story was about the two year affair between Prescott and Temple which took place between 2002 and 2004.[26]

On 4 May 2006, Clifford announced his intention to expose politicians who fail to abide by the standards expected of them in public office. He called his team of undercover investigators "a dedicated and loyal bunch".[2]

Personal life[edit]

Clifford married Elizabeth Louise Porter at St Barnabas Church in Southfields, London, on 3 June 1967. Elizabeth died of lung cancer[27] in Sutton, London,[28] on 8 March 2003.

In March 2010 the News of the World settled out of court after Clifford sought legal action against them for intercepting his voicemail. After a lunch with editor Rebekah Brooks, the paper agreed to pay Clifford's legal fees and an undisclosed "personal payment" not described as damages. The sum exceeded £1 million. The money was paid in exchange for him exclusively giving the paper stories over the next several years.[29][30] Clifford lived in Hersham, Surrey.[31]

On 4 April 2010, Clifford married his former PA Jo Westwood; guests included Des O'Connor, Bobby Davro and Theo Paphitis.[27] In August 2013, following him being charged with indecent assault, Jo sought a divorce,[1] though a report in The Independent claimed it was amicable.[32]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Clifford ran and took part in discreet weekly adult birthday parties for his friends and clients in South London.[33] This brought him into contact with various madams and prostitutes, a connection which still serves him well in his business to satisfy the often bizarre needs of his clients, as well as an early warning system of interesting behaviour of various persons.[2]

Charity works[edit]

Following his 2014 conviction for indecent assault, Shooting Star CHASE and Woking and Sam Beare Hospices announced that Clifford was no longer a patron for either charity.[18] According to his memoirs he handled the publicity for the Daniels family and helped set up the Rhys Daniels Trust from resultant media fees to combat Batten disease.[2] Clifford was a patron at the Royal Marsden; staff at the hospital stated he was no longer a patron after his conviction.[34]

Indecent assault convictions[edit]

Clifford was arrested at his home on 6 December 2012 by Metropolitan Police officers on suspicion of sexual offences; the arrest was part of Operation Yewtree. He was taken to a central London police station for questioning.[35][36] The two alleged offences in question dated from 1977.[37]

On 26 April 2013 he was charged with a further eleven indecent assaults from 1966–85 on girls and women aged 14–19.[38] Clifford claimed the allegations against him were "completely false":[39]

All I know is nobody ever said anything about me at all before Jimmy Savile. This has been a nightmare for myself and my family and I'm totally innocent of these allegations. Since December I've been in the dark, and anonymous people have made accusations from a long, long time ago. They are without any foundation.[40]

On 28 May 2013, Clifford formally pleaded not guilty at Westminster Magistrates' Court; a formal hearing took place at Southwark Crown Court on 12 June 2013 when a date for his trial was set for 4 March 2014.[40][41][42]

On 28 April 2014, Clifford was found guilty of eight counts of indecent assault by a jury at Southwark Crown Court. He was cleared of two charges of indecent assault, and the jury failed to reach a verdict on another charge.[5][43] Following the verdict the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's director of national services Peter Watt, stated:

Max Clifford has rightly been unmasked as a ruthless and manipulative sex offender who preyed for decades on children and young women.[44]

On 2 May 2014, Clifford was sentenced to eight years in jail for indecent assault by Judge Anthony Leonard.[45] Judge Leonard told Clifford he should serve at least half his sentence in prison,[46] adding that he was sure Clifford had also assaulted a 12-year-old girl in Spain, although this charge could not be pursued in the British courts.[46]

The judge added that if the offences had taken place after the law was changed in 2003, several of the offences would have been tried as rape, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.[45] One of Clifford's victims explained to the court that Clifford's assault on her (at age 15) had prevented her from having her first sexual relationship with a partner her own age, while another said that in the years following the assault she had cried whenever she saw Clifford on television, and had feared that the police would laugh at her. Clifford dismissed his victims as "fantasists" and "opportunists".[47] The Judge concluded that Clifford had caused an "additional element of trauma" to his victims by his "contemptuous attitude".[48]


  1. ^ a b "Max Clifford Divorce". 2014-05-20. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Max Clifford and Angela Levin Max Clifford: Read All About it! Virgin Books, 2005, (ISBN 978-1852272371)
  3. ^ Ella Alexander (2014-05-02). "Max Clifford guilty: King of spin expected to close his PR company offices Max Clifford Associates following sentencing today - People - News". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  4. ^ Moss, Stephen; Soldal, Hildegunn (21 February 2009). "'I could probably help you become the next Paxman'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Richard Lister. "Max Clifford guilty of eight indecent assaults". Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "R v Max Clifford". Crimeline. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  7. ^ "Max Clifford jalied for eight years". BBC News. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Paul Gallagher (2014-03-19). "Max Clifford sentenced to eight years in prison - Crime - UK". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  9. ^ a b Barratt, Nick (27 October 2007). "Family Detective – Max Clifford". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  10. ^ a b Barton, Laura (28 April 2008). "'Life has changed – it's nastier now'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  11. ^ Summerskill, Bill (28 July 2002). "Paper tiger". The Observer (London). Retrieved 14 November 2006.
  12. ^ Roy, Amit (9 October 2005). "A trip down memory lane". The Telegraph (Calcutta). Retrieved 14 November 2006.
  13. ^ "Billionaire arms dealer breaks his silence over claims he hired Heather Mills as escort". London Evening Standard. 11 November 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2006. 
  14. ^ a b "Profile: Max Clifford". BBC. 23 March 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  15. ^ "video about the hamster headline". BBC News. 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  16. ^ Gibson, Owen (14 February 2007). "TV dietician to stop using title Dr in adverts". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  17. ^ Lyall, Sarah (23 March 2009). "Jade Goody, British Reality Television Star, Dies at 27". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  18. ^ a b "Max Clifford guilty: Simon Cowell becomes first high profile client to disassociate himself from publicist after he is ‘horrified’ at sexual assault verdict". The Independent. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  19. ^ "Cash for court 'confessions'". BBC News. 12 November 1999. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  20. ^ "US fans shun Michael Jackson CD". BBC News. 30 July 2005. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  21. ^ "Why are there no openly gay footballers?". BBC News. 11 November 2005. Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  22. ^ Tippetts, Adrian (5 August 2009). "EXCLUSIVE – PR guru Max Clifford: 'If a gay footballer comes out, his career is over'". Pink News (London). Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  23. ^ Harris, Nick (20 December 2009). "Two top gay footballers stay in closet". The Independent on Sunday (London). Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  24. ^ Guy Adams "Pandora: 'Sun' shines on Chelsea fan Mellor", The Independent, 26 April 2006, as reproduced on the Find Articles website. Retrieved on 26 March 2009.
  25. ^ Day, Julia (2 February 2005). "Clifford pays out over Hamiltons slur". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  26. ^ "Prescott angry at lover's claims". BBC News. 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  27. ^ a b "Max Clifford weds in low-key ceremony". Digital Spy. 4 April 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  28. ^ "Births and Deaths England and Wales 1837–2006". Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  29. ^ "Tabloid Hack Attack on Royals, and Beyond". The New York Times (London). 1 September 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  30. ^ Evans, Rob (3 February 2010). "News of the World loses battle over secret phone hacking evidence". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 February 2010. 
  31. ^ Barrett, David (28 Apr 2014). "Max Clifford trial: public relations guru guilty of eight counts of indecent assault". Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  32. ^ Jack Simpson (2014-05-11). "Max Clifford: Wife Jo seeking divorce from disgraced publicist husband - News - People". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-05-31. 
  33. ^ Cadwalladr, Carole (23 July 2006). "Circus Maximus". Observer Magazine. Retrieved 26 March 2009.
  34. ^ "Celebrities cut ties to Max Clifford". The Guardian. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  35. ^ "Max Clifford arrested in sex offences investigation". BBC News. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  36. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa (6 December 2012). "Max Clifford arrested on suspicion of sexual offences". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  37. ^ Burns, John F. (6 December 2012). "Star Publicist in Britain Is Questioned in Sex Case". The New York Times. 
  38. ^ "Max Clifford charged with 11 indecent assaults". Crown Prosecution Service blog. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  39. ^ "Max Clifford: PR guru vows to clear name after charges". BBC News. 27 April 2013. 
  40. ^ a b Halliday, Josh (28 May 2013). "Max Clifford pleads not guilty to 11 indecent assault charges". The Guardian (London). 
  41. ^ "PR consultant Max Clifford denies sex charges". BBC News. 28 May 2013. 
  42. ^ "Max Clifford trial date set for March 2014". BBC News. 12 June 2013. 
  43. ^ "Max Clifford found guilty of indecently assaulting teenage girls". 28 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  44. ^ Barrett, David (29 April 2014). "Max Clifford trial: public relations guru guilty of eight counts of indecent assault". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  45. ^ a b "Southwark Crown Court - Regina v Maxwell Clifford - Sentencing remarks". Archived from the original on 3 May 2014. 
  46. ^ a b "Max Clifford jailed for eight years for sex assaults". BBC News (London). 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  47. ^ "Max Clifford victims describe impact of abuse". BBC News. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  48. ^ "Max Clifford: New Claims Under Police Review". Sky News. 03/05/2014. Retrieved 2014-05-10. 

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