Max Clifford, a celebrity publicist who has represented O.J. Simpson, David Beckham and Simon Cowell, was found guilty by a London jury of multiple counts of sexual assault dating back almost 50 years.
Clifford, who faced 11 counts of indecent assault relating to seven women between 1966 and 1984, was convicted of eight charges and cleared on two, a court clerk said. Prosecutors said that the 71-year-old Clifford repeatedly used his status to manipulate young women into sleeping with him using his office as a “sexual fiefdom.”
The conviction is a reprieve for prosecutors after a string of defeats in sexual abuse and rape cases. Lawmakers called for an investigation of how the Crown Prosecution Service handle sex-abuse cases following the acquittal earlier this month of former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans.
“Today’s verdicts provide a long-denied justice to the victims of serious sexual offenses,” Jenny Hopkins, deputy chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said in a statement.
The trial, which lasted more than five weeks, pored over Clifford’s private life with a succession of ex-lovers giving evidence as well as the victims.
Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the 11th charge and prosecutors will decide whether to seek a new trial.
“As the years went by he got away with his behavior,” Rosina Cottage, the lead prosecutor, said on the first day of trial last month. “He must have thought he was untouchable.”
The publicist is the third aging U.K. celebrity to go on trial this year on charges stemming from police investigations of historic allegations triggered by the Jimmy Savile scandal. Former BBC disc jockey Dave Lee Travis was cleared of 12 counts of indecent assaults on women while soap-opera actor Bill Roache was acquitted on six rape charges. Travis faces a retrial on two charges.
Savile, who died in 2011, committed more than 200 criminal sexual-abuse offenses at the BBC, in schools and in more than a dozen hospitals, mental homes and a hospice, London police said in a final report about the former entertainer last year.
Savile wasn’t prosecuted while he was alive, even after four women made reports to two U.K. police departments in 2007 and 2008, in which they described abuse when they were children. Authorities across the U.K. have been ramping up investigations into allegations of historical sex-abuse claims following alleged failures related to Savile.