Court hears Clifford allegedly ‘groped at woman in taxi’

Max Clifford “launched himself” at a woman he sexually assaulted in a taxi, a court heard today.

Court hears Clifford allegedly ‘groped at woman in taxi’

Max Clifford “launched himself” at a woman he sexually assaulted in a taxi, a court heard today.

The alleged victim told jurors that the PR guru “was grabbing my breasts” and tried to give her “a passionate kiss on the mouth”.

The woman, who was 19 at the time, said that in 1978 she was working for a recruitment agency when Clifford phoned and said he was looking for a personal assistant.

She agreed to go to his office to speak to him about finding a person for the job, but while there he started talking about his clients and said that actor Oliver Reed’s sexual preferences were “problematic”, London’s Southwark Crown Court heard.

The woman said: “He just said that they had different preferences and I remember him specifically saying about Oliver Reed, that he liked young girls, but I don’t remember any specifics of the others.”

She told the court that during the meeting – which she claimed lasted about five hours – Clifford actually interviewed her for the job. Afterwards, he hailed a taxi and, despite her wanting to go to Victoria, he directed the driver to London Bridge, saying he had to collect something from a flat.

“On the journey he started trying to kiss me,” she said. “He kind of launched himself at me actually, and started trying to kiss me on the mouth which I said no to.

“I tried to push him off and hold him off.”

The court heard that Clifford responded to her rejection with verbal abuse.

“He was insulting, he was saying horrible things to me, he said I had led him on. He called me a p**** tease, I remember that very clearly,” she said.

“He told me to ‘f*** off’.”

On hearing this evidence Clifford audibly laughed from the dock.

When asked by prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC if she “wanted” his advances, the woman replied: “No, no. Apart from anything, he was much older than me.

“Particularly at that age he wasn’t a young attractive man. He was an old guy.”

The woman said that when the incident was over she felt “really stupid” for not being able to get out of the situation, and did not initially tell anyone because “I didn’t think I would be believed”.

She said she finally went to the police after she heard that Clifford had been arrested on suspicion of similar offences.

“I thought... if I also phoned the police and said ‘He’s not nice’, that that would help those other women. At that time I did not imagine that I would be sat here myself.”

But Richard Horwell QC, defending, put it to her that she had made up the attack, and there had actually been “an entirely professional meeting” which lasted around 90 minutes.

The woman replied: “No.”

The court earlier heard from another of Clifford’s alleged victims, who claimed he told her that actress Julie Christie said he should take her virginity. Clifford is accused of repeatedly abusing the woman in his car in 1977 when she was 15.

The defendant, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and grey tie, listened to the evidence using a hearing loop in the dock. The 70-year-old, from Hersham in Surrey, is accused of 11 counts of indecent assault against seven women and girls. He denies all the charges.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

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