And so it came to pass that the great Cliffus Maximus arrived at court to be sentenced on a number of sexual assault charges, on which, earlier in the week he had got guilty. There was much talk of the judge being unable to impose the kind of term that the 2003 legislation allows, because of the offences’ historic context. So he may not have been expecting what happened next.
Eh? It says here that I'm doing a stretch!
Because trial Judge Anthony Leonard had a nasty surprise in store: the delay in victims coming forward was laid firmly at Clifford’s door. “I judge that you were largely responsible for the delay in the victims coming forward and ought not to benefit from it ... the reason why they were not brought to light sooner is because of your own dominant character and your position in the world of entertainment”.
Worse, he was reminded of the severity of what he had done: “some of the sexual acts of which you have now been found guilty would now be charged as rape or assault by penetration for each of which Parliament has laid down a maximum term of life imprisonment”. Then there was Clifford’s demeanour during the trial, including his trivialising its reporting by mimicking a reporter after he had been found guilty.
Judge Leonard talked of “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 ... 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”.
Then the Judge passed sentence, and here was the real twist in the tail: in only two cases were sentences to run concurrently. In most cases, they were to run consecutively, which means that they were added together. By this means – quite properly applied at the Judge’s discretion – terms that on their own were of no more than 24 months, when totted up came to eight years’ imprisonment.
Clifford will go on the sex offenders’ register for life, with all the restrictions that entails, but his main concern could well be whether he tastes freedom ever again. He is 71 years old, has been treated recently for prostate cancer, and sentencing guidelines mean he must spend at least four years in prison.
But what is clear from the Judge’s conclusions is that there is only one person who should take the blame for Max Clifford’s fall from grace, and that is him. He has no business deflecting, or blaming others. And he should reflect on the way the victims’ evidence tallied to paint a picture of consistent and aggressive behaviour towards young and often vulnerable women.
Yes, there goes Max Clifford. On his way ... out.
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