Pandora: 'You can imagine how I felt' - Max Clifford

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The Independent Online

Robert Murat's recent victory over the British press hasn't just left a bad taste in the mouths of newspaper proprietors. It has also soured his relationship with the public relations guru Max Clifford.

Ever since Murat was named as a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case last summer, Clifford had been acting as Murat's publicist, which he agreed to do on a pro bono basis.

However, in the wake of the £600,000 libel pay-out Murat received from various British newspapers last week, it emerged that he had been employing the services of another company called the PR Office to handle the libel case. What is more, unlike Clifford, the company was being paid. Understandably a trifle miffed, Clifford has penned a letter to this week's PR Week to register his dissatisfaction with his client.

"Together with Nicola Phillips from my office, I spent a huge amount of time and effort over many months talking to Robert and his aunt Sally, often late at night, and doing everything possible to help them and stop the unjustifiable media onslaught," he writes.

"You can imagine this week how I felt when Robert admitted to me he was paying a PR firm that he had been introduced to by his legal team.

"Having worked free of charge and, in the words of Robert and his aunt Sally, 'been both wonderfully supportive and successful', I was not happy."

Although Murat appears to have been acting on advice from his legal team, his bridges with Clifford seem to be well and truly torched.

"Robert continues to have a huge battle on his hands to clear his name and get his life back on track," Clifford adds.

"For now, I'll concentrate my time on appreciative paying clients and my continued battle with prostate cancer."

They should be so lucky

The good times are over in the City of London. Last Friday, the hedge fund giant Man Group, sponsor of the Man Booker prize, held its 225th anniversary bash in a moat at the Tower of London.

Word around the square mile had it that Kylie Minogue would be performing in front of the Beefeaters, as well as Diana Ross. The reality was a little less glitzy, as the performers turned out to be tribute acts.

"I don't think we would have been able to afford the real thing," admits a spokesman, sheepishly.

Weller reveals how opportunity knocked

Paul Weller has emerged as an unlikely early applicant to a reality talent show.

The cantankerous former Jam singer has revealed that for all their angry bluster, the band once applied to appear on Hughie Green's Opportunity Knocks.

"Our guitarist's girlfriend at the time, she wrote off to get us an audition," he tells this month's Q magazine.

"She was going 'oh, it'll be great, you can go and audition and get on telly.' So she wrote off and they asked us to audition. I thought, 'fuck off'. But luckily they turned us down.

"We played them a few of our own tunes. I can barely remember doing it, but we were so shit. And thank God. I don't want to think what would have happened if we'd ended up getting on."

Len's a marked man

The under-fire Metropolitan Police Authority chairman Len Duvall is walking around with a nasty mark above his left eye. A colleague says there has been no fisticuffs – it is caused by a medical face mask he wears in bed to treat a sleep disorder. Along with Met chief Sir Ian Blair, Duvall is currently the subject of a race discrimination case being pursued by Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur.

Still a true blue

Boris Johnson's former aide James McGrath is refusing to spill the borlotti.

McGrath, who was forced to resign last month over comments he made about Caribbean immigrants, recently honoured a prearranged talk at the London offices of PR firm Fleishman Hillard. Rather than stick the knife into his former boss, I am told he was "extremely complimentary" about Bozza. Could he be plotting a return?

There's a new Twiggy in town

Hats off to Italian superchef Aldo Zilli, whose wife, Nikki, gave birth to a baby girl yesterday.

Zilli has named the tot Twiggy, in homage to the legendary British supermodel.

"Twiggy is a style icon of mine from the sixties and she still looks amazing even as a granny," he tells me.

"I hope my daughter looks as good at 30 as the real Twiggy does today."

Zilli has form for naming his offspring after prominent Brits. Two years ago, he christened his son Rocco after Rocco Forte, who also springs from Italian stock, even though the two had never met.