A 14-year-old schoolgirl feared that the “nerdy” and “repulsive” celebrity publicist Max Clifford was going to rape her after trying to seduce her with an offer of meeting pop group The Walker Brothers in the mid-1960s, a court heard on Monday.
The woman, now in her sixties, said she had accepted his offer of a lift to her home from a Wimpy in south-west London. However, she said, Mr Clifford, then in his early twenties, drove the opposite way from her parents’ house and stopped in an alleyway. Mr Clifford, whose clients have included Simon Cowell, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, is accused of indecently assaulting her, jurors at Southwark Crown Court were told.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court he showed her a book of photographs of him with celebrities including the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. She said she would like to meet The Walker Brothers.
“He said: ‘I can arrange that, but this is what you’ve got to do’, and he put my seat right back and then he tried to force himself upon me, basically,” she said. “My seat, I think it went almost horizontal, that’s the way it seemed, he then sort of lunged at me and put his body on me. He was touching me all over. It was quite obvious what he wanted to do. I thought at the time I was going to get raped if I didn’t get out of the car, I was just thinking about escape.”
She told the court she managed to open the car door and wriggle free and ran home. The jury heard how she had told friends about what happened over the years, but did not go to the police until recently.
“I didn’t really want to tell my parents about it because I think they would have locked me in forever then, because they were quite strict anyway,” she told the jury. “I was just so happy to be in one piece. I didn’t know at the time if I was going to get raped or murdered. If someone starts driving in the opposite direction of where you are, you think: ‘I’m in trouble.’”
Clifford, 70, from Hersham in Surrey, is accused of 11 counts of indecent assault against seven women and girls. He denies all the charges.
In cross-examination by Richard Horwell QC, the court heard that the woman had described Clifford as “nerdy” because he wore a suit. She said in a witness statement that she was “actually repulsed by him because he didn’t fit in”. She also told the jury that he “wasn’t very popular”.
The court heard that she could not remember any details of Clifford’s car and was unsure if the alleged incident had taken place in 1966 or 1967. Mr Horwell told the witness: “I suggest… that none of this ever happened. That in 1966 Max Clifford did not have a car, he did not have access to a car. This never happened did it?” She replied: “It did happen.”
Jurors also heard from several of the woman’s friends who said she had confided in them. One, a manager of retirement flats, said she had told her Clifford had “tried it on” after offering her a lift, and the woman had been “disgusted and very frightened” by what happened.
The trial continues.