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British PR guru Max Clifford charged with sex assaults

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Top British publicist Max Clifford was on Friday charged with 11 counts of indecent assault, including four offences relating to girls aged 14 and 15.

The alleged offences concern seven different young women and girls ranging in age from 14 to 19 years old and are said to have taken place between 1966 and 1985.

Clifford, 70, best known for protecting the image of scandal-hit celebrities in Britain's tabloid press, was arrested in December as part of a wider investigation into sex offences sparked by allegations against the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.

The charges are unrelated to Savile.

Clifford said the allegations were "completely false" and vowed to "clear my name in a court of law".

He will appear before magistrates in London on May 28.

Clifford is one of a handful of celebrities to be arrested under the Scotland Yard investigation codenamed Operation Yewtree, after former glam rocker and convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, comedian Freddie Starr and radio presenter Dave Lee Travis.

The veteran Australian-born entertainer Rolf Harris has been named by the British media as another of the men interviewed as part of the investigation, although police have never named him.

Clifford is one of the most influential publicity agents in Britain and has represented everyone from O.J. Simpson to Mohamed Al Fayed, the former owner of iconic London department store Harrods.

Clifford left school with no qualifications but after a brief stint as a press officer for EMI records in the 1960s, built up his company, Max Clifford Associates, to become one of the most powerful forces in British media.

Clifford became the first port of call for clients either wanting to sell stories to the media, or stop them appearing at all.

He gave evidence to a press standards inquiry last year, partly because he was a victim of phone hacking by the News of the World, the tabloid shut down by Rupert Murdoch in 2011.

Clifford told the inquiry that he had reached a settlement with Murdoch's News International worth £660,000 ($1.0 million, 785,000 euros) plus a further £300,000 in legal costs, and in return had agreed to continue working with the News of the World on stories.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130426/british-pr-guru-max-clifford-charged-sex-assaults-0