Max Clifford loses appeal over eight-year jail sentence for sex offences

Disgraced media mogul was told sentence was 'justified' by Court of Appeal

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The Independent Online

Disgraced media mogul Max Clifford has lost a Court of Appeal challenge against his eight-year jail sentence for sex offences.

The 71-year-old was convicted of a number of historic offences between 1977 and 1984. Clifford had branded his accusers "fantasists" and denied the charges, but was convicted at London's Southwark Crown Court.

But Lord Justice Treacy, who heard the case with Mr Justice Turner and Judge Michael Pert, upheld the sentence against the former PR guru and said it was "justified".

Announcing the court's decision today, Lord Justice Treacy said it was a "just and proportionate" sentence "taking account of considerations of harm and culpability together with aggravating factors and such mitigation as was available to the appellant".

Clifford, from Hersham, Surrey, became the first person convicted under Operation Yewtree, Scotland Yard’s major investigation into historical sex crimes.

At a recent appeal hearing, Clifford's barrister Richard Horwell QC told the three judges that Clifford's last offence was committed 29 years ago, "since when he has led an industrious life, and devoted a considerable part of his time to charitable works for which he has raised substantial funds".

The trial judge had "accepted that he is no longer a danger to women and that he will not commit further offences".

Mr Horwell said that for a number of reasons the sentence imposed was "too long", adding: "Although the sentencing process must reflect modern attitudes, and I fully accept that that is our law, the sentencing process must not abandon common sense and fairness."

Rosina Cottage QC, for the Crown, said the total sentence imposed was one the trial judge was "entitled to reach".

When sentencing Clifford, Judge Anthony Leonard told him his personality and position in the public eye were the reasons his crimes were not revealed earlier.

He said: "The reason why they were not brought to light sooner was because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment which meant that your victims thought that you were untouchable, something that I think you too believed."

He added: "These offences may have taken place a long time ago, when inappropriate and trivial sexual behaviour was more likely to be tolerated, but your offending was not trivial, but of a very serious nature."

Clifford is currently serving his sentence at Littlehey Category C men's prison in Cambridgeshire.

Additional reporting by PA