Top publicist arrested in UK sex abuse inquiry

Thu Dec 6, 2012 6:23pm EST
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - 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 lawyer said.

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 SavilSevillee, 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 phone.

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.   Continued...

Publicist Max Clifford arrives for music and television mogul Simon Cowell's 50th birthday party celebration at Wrotham Park in Barnet, north London October 3, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor