THE NEWSDESK: Max Clifford thought he was above the law
THE conviction of Max Clifford for sex offences is a vindication for the victims who thought they would never be believed.
The case also lifted the rock on the nasty side of our celebrity-obsessed culture.
All too often, the British public has been guilty of buying magazines and newspapers with kiss-and-tell exclusives without giving a second thought to the processes which have been gone through to get them.
And "PR gurus" who are like Clifford like us to think of them as loveable duckers and divers, a modern-day Flash Harry from the St Trinian's films. Got need of a footballer sex scandal, guv? I've got one on me handcart...
But while Clifford, now 71 and at the start of an eight year sentence, was peddling those scandalous stories, he was a predator who used his celebrity connections to lure young women into his trap.
During his trial, prosecutors portrayed Clifford as a well-practised manipulator, who promised to boost his victims' careers and get them to meet celebrities in exchange for sexual favours.
He offered to get them casting appointments, pretending to be Hollywood bigwigs including Steven Spielberg, James Bond film producer Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Michael Winner on the phone.
He sexually assaulted young women. And then went about the place offering up his clients' stories of sleeping with the rich and famous to the highest bidder.
Detectives are now looking into fresh allegations against Clifford, Scotland Yard has said. Clifford was convicted of eight counts of historic abuse, carried out between 1977 and 1984.
Following sentencing a spokesman for Scotland Yard confirmed that other people had since come forward with allegations.
Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Anthony Leonard told Clifford: "The reason why they were not brought to light sooner was because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment which meant that your victims thought that you were untouchable, something that I think you too believed."
He told the veteran media expert: "These offences may have taken place a long time ago, when inappropriate and trivial sexual behaviour was more likely to be tolerated, but your offending was not trivial, but of a very serious nature."
Clifford behaved all along like he was above the law - including during the trial.
Judge Leonard condemned Clifford's "contemptuous" behaviour during the trial, referring to a strange encounter when he was filmed mimicking Sky News reporter Tom Parmenter as he recorded a piece to camera.
Describing the ordeal of the victim who was abused from the age of 15, the judge said: "Not unnaturally, what she looks for is some sort of apology from you or an acknowledgement as to what you have been responsible for.
"She has been extremely upset by your public denials before trial, the reports of your attitude during trial - laughing and shaking your head in the dock at the accusations made against you.
"For my part, I would add something that since the jury have returned verdicts I have discovered, that you appeared behind a reporter outside this court whilst he was making his report of your evidence and during which you mimicked his actions in a way that was designed to trivialise these events.
"I find your behaviour to be quite extraordinary and a further indication that you show no remorse."
Thankfully, Clifford has now learned that no one is above the law. And it is high time that we, as a society, turned our collective back on the red-top culture which peddles exploitative sex stories.
IN DAYS when it is very hard to find a truly altruistic act, there is a little ray of hope in Newport - thanks to the city's floral society.
"Lonely bouquets" were placed around the city on Friday with a note asking the finder to take them home, with the sole aim of cheering those who discovered them.
"In today's economic and social climate it is unusual to find anyone doing anything without expecting a reward," the society said.
The 80 bouquets were placed with "no ulterior motive than to brighten somebody's day".
What a fantastic idea. There were 80 people with smiles on their faces after that.
I read with interest yesterday that a new book by psychotherapist Graham Music, The Good LIfe: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality, says that our societal changes - and the shift to a more unequal society - are making us less altruistic, less kind. We are, he says, losing empathy for those around us.
How depressing. But the good part of his book is that Music believes people are not born selfish - that we are much more likely to be born big-hearted and have that taken away from us by society. There is, at least hope we can change.
And in this city, we're saying it with flowers.
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