Max Clifford trial: Jurors told to return majority verdict in trial of celebrity PR

Clifford is accused of 11 counts of indecent assault, all of which he denies

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The Independent Online

Jurors in the trial of veteran celebrity agent Max Clifford have been given a majority direction, meaning that they can now offer verdicts if at least nine of them are agreed.

Clifford, 71, is accused of 11 counts of indecent assault on seven alleged victims, all of which he denies.

The 10 jurors - six men and four women - retired to deliberate on the charges last Tuesday.

After telling Judge Anthony Leonard on Wednesday that they have so far failed to reach unanimous verdicts, he told them he would take verdicts on which at least nine of them are agreed.

Two jurors have previously been separately discharged from the case at London's Southwark Crown Court.

After the jury had been deliberating for 21 hours and 21 minutes, the judge told them: “The time has now come in law where I am able to say that I can accept a verdict which is not the verdict of you all but it must be a verdict on which at least nine of you are agreed.”

He added that they should try to reach a verdict on which they are all agreed.

During the seven-week trial, prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC said Clifford was a “master in the art of intimidation”, using his celebrity connections to “bully and manipulate” girls and young women into sex acts over a period of nearly 20 years.

The PR consultant treated his office as his own “sexual fiefdom” and “playground”, taking “what he wanted when he wanted”, she said.

Clifford, from Hersham in Surrey, told the jury that the allegations against him were “a load of lies” as he accused the alleged victims of being “fantasists and opportunists”.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between 1966 and 1984 - before Clifford found widespread fame with his links to tabloid stories including The Sun's Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster front page, the court heard.

The alleged assaults are said to have happened in cars and at his New Bond Street offices in central London, jurors have been told.

On some occasions, Clifford allegedly told the girls to take off their clothes. On others, he made them perform sex acts on him, and in some cases, he forced himself on them, it is alleged.

The women - who do not know each other - came forward to police in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal, the court heard.

A number of other witnesses - not complainants in the case - also made allegations against Clifford, including one woman who claimed she was just 12 when she was assaulted by the publicist while in a jacuzzi in Spain.

The alleged incident, said to have happened in 1983, could not be included in the charges as it took place abroad, the jury heard.

The court has heard claims that Clifford has a “micro-penis” measuring two-and-a-half inches when erect, while one woman told the court the publicist's penis was “enormous”.

A doctor measured Clifford's penis at an “average” five-and-a-quarter inches long when flaccid, the jury has been told.

Judge Leonard has warned jurors to ignore other recent high-profile sex assault cases, which he told them are irrelevant to their considerations.