PR GURU Max Clifford will be sentenced on Friday after a jury found him guilty of a string of indecent assaults on teenage girls in the first conviction under sex crime inquiry Operation Yewtree.
The 71-year-old celebrity publicist was convicted of eight indecent assaults and cleared of two at Southwark Crown Court yesterday, with the jury unable to reach a verdict on one other count.
Clifford had repeatedly denied the claims, calling his arrest and prosecution “a nightmare” and branding his accusers “fantasists”.
His crimes were investigated by detectives on Operation Yewtree which was set up following the revelations about Yorkshire celebrity Jimmy Savile.
Lawyer Liz Dux, who represents more than 150 people who have made complaints under Operation Yewtree, said the verdicts proved that the investigation is not a “witch-hunt”.
Denise Marshall, chief executive of Eaves, a charity which campaigns against violence against women and girls, said prosecutors are right to pursue historic sex cases.
Peter Watt, director of National Services at the NSPCC, said: “Max Clifford has rightly been unmasked as a ruthless and manipulative sex offender.”
Clifford spoke only briefly to waiting journalists as he left court, grim-facedly posing for pictures flanked by supporters, and ignoring reporters’ questions.
He told journalists: “I have been told by my lawyers not to say anything at all.”
As he walked towards his waiting car, Clifford was asked what it felt like to be the story, and replied it was “not the first time”.
Moments earlier, he had sat still in the dock as his fate was revealed, breathing deeply as he listened through a hearing loop.
His daughter Louise showed no emotion as the damning verdicts were given.
The media expert then walked out of the courtroom with friends and supporters in complete silence, one of them patting him on the shoulder.
He was released on bail until his sentencing on Friday, but Judge Anthony Leonard QC warned him that he may face jail.
He said: “You must realise that the fact I have given you bail is no indication of what the final sentence will be.”
The court had heard from a string of women who testified about Clifford’s behaviour, romping naked in his New Bond Street office.
Prosecutors portrayed him as a well-practised manipulator, who promised to boost his victims’ careers and get them to meet celebrities in exchange for sexual favours.
Jenny Hopkins, deputy chief crown prosecutor in London, said a decision would be taken over whether to ask for a retrial over the count where the jury failed to reach a verdict
“Today’s verdicts provide a long-denied justice to the victims of serious sexual offences,” she said.
“I would like to thank these victims for having had the courage to come forward and give evidence.
“The victims of sexual abuse, whenever it may have taken place, should know that police and prosecutors will listen.”
Detective Chief Inspector Michael Orchard, from Operation Yewtree, said: “I hope [the victims] feel and know that they were listened to.
“While this was a high- profile trial, officers work tirelessly to being offenders of sexual abuse to justice on a daily basis.”