Publicist arrested in sex abuse inquiry
Caught up in investigation ... Max Clifford after his arrest. Photo: Reuters
LONDON: Max Clifford, the public relations adviser, has become the latest high-profile figure to be arrested by detectives working on the Jimmy Savile sex abuse investigation.
The 69-year-old, who has spent his career managing the affairs of celebrities caught up in potentially scandalous situations, was held on suspicion of sexual offences on Thursday as part of Scotland Yard's Operation Yewtree investigation.
Police refused to confirm the identity of the person arrested, but said the allegations were not connected to the decades of child sex abuse carried out by Savile, the late television presenter.
Mr Clifford, who has been a regular fixture on television commenting about Operation Yewtree arrests, was detained at his home on a private estate in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, at 7.40am.
He was taken to a central London police station for questioning while detectives removed a number of items from the large detached home he shares with his second wife Jo.
The publicist's lawyer, Charlotte Harris, of Mishcon de Reya, confirmed that Mr Clifford had been interviewed by detectives and had assisted the police "as best he could". It remains unclear whether the arrest of Mr Clifford is linked to allegations of child abuse, but sources close to him insisted he was not being accused of paedophilia.
Mr Clifford is the sixth person to be formally questioned by officers from Operation Yewtree, which was set up in October when hundreds of people came forward to allege that they had been abused by Top of the Pops presenter Savile or other well-known figures.
Among those arrested are Gary Glitter, the 1970s pop star, Dave Lee Travis, the former Radio One DJ, and Freddie Starr, the comedian.
Detectives have split the investigation into three categories, the first relating to allegations involving Savile, the second relating to allegations about Savile acting with others and the third relating to allegations about people unconnected with Savile.
Mr Clifford is Britain's best-known publicist, and has worked with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, ranging from the Beatles to Simon Cowell, in a career spanning 50 years. Starting work in the EMI record company press office in 1962, he was involved with many of the biggest pop groups of the decade.
When police began investigating allegations of sex abuse dating back decades, Mr Clifford said he had been contacted by a number of high-profile celebrities stating that they were "frightened to death" that they would be implicated in the scandal.
He said at the time: "All kinds of things went on – and I do mean young girls throwing themselves at them in their dressing rooms at concert halls, at gigs, whatever. They never asked for anybody's birth certificate and they were young lads . . . suddenly everyone's dream was a reality."
He added: "We are talking about a lot of people that were huge names in the 1960s and 1970s and a lot of them barely remember what they did last week, genuinely.
"For them to try and recount what happened in a dressing room in 1965 or 1968 or 1972, genuinely they are frightened to death."
Mr Clifford said he did not condone the men's behaviour but suggested it could be understood, adding: "No one had heard the word paedophile in those days, the 1960s and 1970s."