Sex claims
cast ‘dark cloud’ over
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PR guru Max Clifford has said indecent assault accusations are “a very dark cloud” over him as he prepares to face trial.

The 70-year-old denies 11 counts of the offence relating to seven alleged victims, aged from 14 to 19, between 1966 and 1984.

Yesterday, jury selection began at Southwark Crown Court and it is expected that the prosecution case will be opened by Rosina Cottage QC today.

Outside court, Clifford said the 15 months since his arrest had aged him.

He said: “It has been for 15 months a very dark cloud for myself, my family and loved ones.”

Eighteen potential jurors were chosen yesterday from a pool of about 60 and a final panel is due to be sworn in today.

Wearing a dark jacket and grey trousers with a white shirt and patterned tie, Clifford, from Hersham in Surrey, listened to proceedings through a hearing loop from the glass-walled dock.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC told the potential jurors: “The trial cannot be heard without a jury.

“It is a fundamental principle of our justice system that someone accused of a serious offence is tried by a jury selected at random.”

He said sitting on a trial expected to last up to six weeks might be “a considerable burden”, but that jurors might find service “an interesting and responsible” experience.

The potential jurors were read a list of names and asked if they knew any of the people mentioned.

The judge also asked them: “Are you or any family member or close friend connected to the Yewtree investigation?”

He described the inquiry as one “looking into a number of alleged offences of historic indecent assaults”.

The third question posed was: “Have you or any family member or close friend worked with or for Max Clifford in a professional capacity, or in voluntary or charity work?”

Sending the panel home until today at 10am, the judge warned them not to discuss the case with anyone.