Grace Dent: How fitting that Max Clifford ended up at the centre of a story that he had no control over

The publicist operated in a murky, lawless world. Good on the jury for realising that

 

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There was a curious moment during the trial of Max Clifford where the nation seemed fixated on the brevity of the Clifford's penis. It looked like a button mushroom, we heard. A micro-penis, 2.5 in long. “The model told Clifford she didn’t think it was particularly small,” an officer told Southwark Crown Court, “but in reality she felt it was tiny.”

The possibility of Clifford being convicted for crimes of indecent assault on girls as young as 15 felt rather slender because courts have a tendency not to care too much for “silly girls” who have been duped on to casting couches. But Clifford's fall from grace penis-wise seemed perfect.

Clifford was the man who for a very long time controlled much of the media. He was a feared figure who made stories appear and other ones go away. The 1990s and early 2000s in particular was an era in which a handful of murky individuals worked in lawless fashion, doing precisely whatever they wanted.

There were rumours about Clifford’s approach to young women, but who would ever dare to take him on legally? Who would make an enemy of Clifford? The fact that in 2014 Clifford had completely lost control of the reins - and his penis size was being ridiculed on Twitter, a modern news source he had no control over - felt rather fitting.

Clifford has been found guilty of a string of indecent assaults on teenage girls over a period of nearly 20 years. It is a victory for women - albeit a ghastly victory - that the jury cared about Clifford's seeking of sex in return to meet David Bowie, or roles in James Bond movies. Then there was his tendency to strip naked in his office and force girls to touch him.

As Prosecutor Rosina Cottage said, Clifford’s office was his “own sexual fiefdom”. He was “a man who likes to play games with people, and you will hear evidence of the games that he played with these girls and young women.”

The fiefdom has gone, the leader toppled, the press is a tiny bit freer. Max Clifford is no longer cock of the walk.

@gracedent

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