Famed UK publicist charged with indecent assault

LONDON (AP) — Prominent celebrity publicist Max Clifford has been charged with 11 counts of indecent assault, British officials said Friday.

The 70-year-old public relations guru, the second person to be charged as part of a broad investigation into child sex abuse spurred by the scandal involving the late BBC personality Jimmy Savile, professed his innocence, saying there was “absolutely no truth and substance” to the allegations.

Prosecutors said the charges against Clifford relate to assaults allegedly committed between 1966 and 1985. The charges involve seven female complainants who were between the ages of 14 and 19 at the times of the alleged assaults, they added in a statement.

Clifford, considered an affable and sage “go to” guy for celebrities embroiled in public relations fiascos, was arrested in December 2012. He said Friday he’s been in a “24/7 nightmare” since then and vowed to clear his name.

“The allegations in respect of which I have been charged are completely false — very upsetting, very distressing, but completely false,” he told reporters outside of his home. “I have never indecently assaulted anyone in my life, and this will become clear during the course of the proceedings.”

Clifford will appear at a London court on May 28.

Former BBC chauffeur David Smith, 55, is the only other person so far to be charged as a result of Operation Yewtree, an investigation launched after revelations that Savile may have targeted hundreds of young victims over five decades. Savile died in 2011 at age 84.

About a dozen people have been arrested as part of the Yewtree probe, including veteran entertainer Rolf Harris and former pop star Gary Glitter.

Clifford long has been a fixture on British television news programs and in newspapers, which frequently seek his thoughts on how celebrities can come up with novel marketing strategies to maximize their appeal — and how celebrities dealing with marital breakdowns, drug problems, legal issues or fading popularity can rebound.

His clients have included entertainment mogul Simon Cowell, former Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed, and the late reality TV star Jade Goody. He also has represented dozens of ordinary people who found themselves at the vortex of the news and who sought to sell their stories to the press, which is a common, and lucrative, practice in Britain.


Cassandra Vinograd can be reached at http://twitter.com/CassVinograd

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