* Publicist helped Britain's famous defend reputations
* Arrest suggests investigation is widening
By Michael Holden
LONDON, Dec 6 Max Clifford, Britain's
highest-profile celebrity publicist, was arrested for alleged
sex crimes on Thursday by a special police unit set up in the
wake of an abuse scandal involving a former BBC TV star, his
Clifford, 69, made his name and fortune helping some of
Britain's most famous people defend and shape their reputations
in the country's muckraking tabloid press and has been a
longstanding media pundit on celebrity scandal and the press.
He is the fifth person to be arrested since police launched
an extensive inquiry into sex crime allegations against the late
Jimmy Savile, a high-profile BBC star in the 1970s and 80s.
Clifford denied the allegations, saying that "on a personal
level" they were "very distressing".
"Anyone who really knew me all those years ago, and those
who have known me since will, I'm sure, have absolutely no doubt
that I would never act in the way that I have today been
accused," he told Reuters, reading a prepared statement on the
His arrest suggests detectives are continuing to expand the
scope of their investigation.
"Max Clifford is being interviewed by police. Mr Clifford
will assist the police as best he can with their enquiries. When
we are in a position to provide further information, we will,"
his lawyer, Charlotte Harris, said in a statement.
Earlier, London's Metropolitan Police said they were
questioning a 69-year-old man on suspicion of sexual offences.
That arrest was part of an investigation into Savile, who
detectives say was one of Britain's most prolific child sex
offenders. Police are looking into more than 200 allegations of
assault and have heard from more than 500 victims.
Police are looking into three categories of alleged
offences: those involving only Savile, which make up the
majority of cases; those involving Savile and others; and those
which had no direct link to Savile.
Clifford's arrest is part of the third strand.
Some of Savile's alleged victims said they were abused on
BBC premises at the height of his fame and the fallout from the
revelations has thrown the publicly funded broadcaster into
turmoil, forcing its director general to resign.
The other people arrested include the former glam-rock
singer Gary Glitter and comedian Freddie Starr, who both deny
any wrongdoing. Police have questioned a fifth man who is in his
"KISS AND TELL"
Clifford is best known in Britain for selling "kiss and
tell" stories relating to the rich and famous to scandal-hungry
tabloids, though he says he actually earned more money by
keeping details about celebrities out of the papers.
The publicist's clients have included "X Factor" reality TV
show creator Simon Cowell.
On Wednesday, police charged veteran BBC TV and radio
presenter Stuart Hall with three counts of indecent assault
involving girls as young as nine, relating to alleged offences
from the 1970s and 80s.
Detectives said Hall's alleged crimes were not linked to the
In addition to claims relating to his activities at the BBC,
the cigar-chomping one-time DJ is also accused of targeting
children at three hospitals where he carried out extensive
charity work, raising tens of millions of pounds (dollars) in
The government on Thursday published the terms of reference
for investigations to be carried out at Leeds General Hospital,
Broadmoor Hospital and Stoke Mandeveille Hospital, the
birthplace of the Paralympic Games which has an internationally
renowned unit for spinal injuries.
These are due to report towards the second half of 2013 and
will be overseen by former lawyer Kate Lampard, the Department
of Health announced.
"It is important that victims of this abuse can be certain
these investigations discover exactly what happened and what
went wrong," she said.
In total, about a dozen inquiries have been ordered into
Savile, including two internal probes at the BBC.
One is examining why the broadcaster decided to drop an
investigation by its flagship Newsnight TV programme into Savile
shortly after his death and ran laudatory shows instead.
That has embroiled the then-BBC chief Mark Thompson, now
chief executive of the New York Times, who has denied
any knowledge of the Newsnight inquiry but has nonetheless found
the issue dogging him in his new role.