'Damaging and totally untrue': Max Clifford speaks out against allegations after his arrest in Jimmy Savile sex abuse investigation

69-year-old was held at 7.40am and taken to a central London police station

He once said he loved being “at the centre of everything and being in control”. Britain's best-known publicist Max Clifford secured half of his stated aim at 7.40am today when he was arrested by police investigating claims of historical sex abuse.

Mr Clifford, 69, the fabled master spinner and friend to the stars, was arrested at his Surrey home on suspicion of "sexual offences" and questioned at a central London police station, before being released on bail tonight.

He became the fifth man to be arrested by officers of Operation Yewtree following the avalanche of allegations since the outing of Jimmy Savile as a predatory paedophile in a television documentary in October.

Mr Clifford, whose arrest is understood not to be directly linked with Savile, said last night that the allegation dated back to 1977. Standing outside the police station, he said in a short statement that the claims were "damaging and totally untrue", adding they were "very distressing for myself, my wife, my family and loved ones".

Scotland Yard declined to give further details about the nature of the allegations today, but Mr Clifford had already been centre stage in the saga. He said last month that he had been contacted by more than a dozen major stars and managers who were concerned about the growing scandal and had asked him to "keep them in the picture".

"It is a situation which could easily turn into a witch-hunt, a lot of big stars are frightened," he said during a round of media interviews. "Where is it going to end?" he asked.

Asked whether he was "compromising himself" by acting for people who may have been involved in unwitting underage sex, he said: "It's very simple – I am very close friends with a lot of these people and have been for 40 to 50 years. They know I'm in the middle of the media world, so I'm the first person that they turn to, not just on this subject but lots of subjects."

The arrest marked a stunning development for a man who has been the architect of tabloid "kiss-and-tells" involving major public figures for decades. He was catapulted into the big time after The Sun ran the headline "Freddie Starr ate My Hamster" with his permission – even though the comedian has always denied the allegation. He later told the Leveson Inquiry that he had recognised it would be great publicity for Starr as he embarked on a new tour.

He has since had his fingerprints on numerous classic tabloid front-page stories involving David Beckham, David Mellor, Jude Law and Sven-Goran Eriksson. He has also been caught on camera talking about how he successfully suppressed scandals.

In an old video that only came to light last month, Mr Clifford spoke of how he would create a "false image" for clients as "long as they're not interfering with little kids".

Mr Starr was one of the other five men arrested during the course of the investigation. Gary Glitter, the former radio DJ Dave Lee Travis and former television producer Wilfred De'Ath have all been arrested and subsequently bailed.

A man in his 80s from Berkshire has also been questioned as part of the police inquiry that now involves 30 officers and has cost £2m. They have all denied any wrongdoing.

The spokesman's spokeswoman

With the master publicist unavailable for comment until late last night, the task of confirming Max Clifford's arrest today fell to his solicitor, Charlotte Harris, below, a media specialist at law firm Mishcon de Reya. She represented Mr Clifford in 2010 when News International settled his phone-hacking case for £991,000. The website of Max Clifford Associates, the company he set up in the 1970s after working as a reporter and music PR, had no mention of the arrest. However, a fundraising dinner at which he was due to speak on Monday has been cancelled.

News
people
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities