The spectre of shamed TV presenter Jimmy Savile has haunted the trial of Britain’s top public relations guru Max Clifford, his lawyer has said as the sex assault case neared its conclusion.
Richard Horwell told London’s Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday that wealthy people like Clifford were being branded predators due to the “Savile effect”.
The prosecution has told the trial that the claims from Clifford’s alleged victims emerged following revelations in 2012 that Savile – a household name in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s – had been a serial sex offender.
Clifford, 71, denies 11 counts of indecent assault against seven girls and women.
In his closing speech, Clifford’s lawyer told jurors: “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 does the defendant always have to be a ‘predator’ when the evidence indicates he is not?”
He said the trial had been “obsessed” with Clifford’s sex life, but his extra-marital affairs were not on trial.
“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?”, he asked.
Horwell said it amounted to “grubby voyeurism”.
“It’s fifth-rate fiction that not even Mills and Boon would countenance,” he said.
While the defendant’s accusers “enjoyed anonymity” and faced no financial cost, Clifford’s name had been “published in newspapers and on television screens across the land” as he faced “many months of misery”.
Earlier, in her closing speech, prosecutor Rosina Cottage described Clifford as a “master in the art of intimidation and manipulation”.
“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,” she said.
Clifford was a “risk-taker” and had an “arrogant confidence he could get away with almost anything”.
“Don’t be fooled,” she told the jury.
The judge is shortly expected to begin summing up the case, before asking the jury to consider their verdicts in the trial, which began on March 6.