UK

Max Clifford loses appeal to cut assaults sentence

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Media captionSarah Campbell reports on the ruling against Max Clifford's sentence appeal

Former celebrity publicist Max Clifford has had an appeal against his eight-year sentence for sex offences rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Three judges ruled the sentence was justified and correct.

Clifford's lawyer had argued the length of the jail term imposed was unfair and insisted his client was not a danger to women.

Clifford, 71, was convicted in April of eight historical indecent assaults on women and on girls as young as 15.

He was the first person to be convicted under Operation Yewtree, the operation set up by the Metropolitan Police in the wake of allegations against Jimmy Savile.

Consecutive sentences

Lord Justice Treacy, who heard the appeal case with Mr Justice Turner and Judge Michael Pert, said the length of the prison term was "just and proportionate".

The judge added: "It seems to us that, after consideration of the individual offences and the application of modern sentencing attitudes reflected in the guidelines, but tempered by the need to have regard to the statutory maximum available at the time, an overall sentence of eight years was justified and correct."


Analysis

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Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent

Legal experts were expecting Max Clifford's sentence to be reduced by a year or two - and his lawyers thought it should have been.

Their key argument was that the trial judge had placed too much emphasis on the current sentencing regime for sex offences which is tougher than when the offences were committed in the 1970s and early 80s.

But the appeal judges said courts were "entitled to reflect modern attitudes" to historical offences, as well as current sentencing guidelines - an important principle that will have implications for other cases.

The appeal court did find two "errors" in the trial judge's approach to sentencing, but said the mistakes didn't affect the overall eight-year term. It means Clifford won't be freed until at least May 2018, at the halfway point of his sentence, when he'll be 75 years old.


At the time of Clifford's sentencing, Judge Anthony Leonard said he had groomed and degraded his victims.

One victim - who was 15 at the time - revealed in a statement how she had missed out on having her first sexual relationship with someone her own age because of Clifford's actions.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Clifford's lawyer had argued the sentence passed in April was unfair

Another said she would cry whenever she saw him on TV following and feared police would laugh at her when she finally came forward.

Prosecuting barrister Rosina Cottage QC said one of the women felt she had "lost the last 20 years" of her life.

Judge Leonard ruled in May that Clifford should serve his eight sentences of between six and 24 months consecutively.

Lord Justice Treacy added on Friday: "This is a case where it is clear that the effect of what was done to the victims was not something from which they recovered quickly.

"The appellant's actions towards these victims had long term consequences for their lives. This is clearly a highly material circumstance for this court to consider."

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