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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 10:10 GMT
Bullseye for Clifford's arrow
Max Clifford: Anti-Establishment

If there was an undisputed champion at playing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, it would have to be Max Clifford.

And it would be fitting that his latest scalp is that of an Archer.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for the silver-haired publicist. And he promises further revelations are in the pipeline.

Allison Brown's accusations led to Gary Glitter trial
Before he helped end Lord Archer's mayoral bid by putting Ted Francis in touch with the News of the World, Clifford tipped off The Mirror about news of Cherie Blair's pregnancy.

The Mirror grandly claimed that the story was the scoop of the year, and then went on to claim it was scoop of the millennium. It was some tip.

And before that he was helping "Miss X", the woman who had an affair with Gary Glitter, go public. Allison Brown went before the cameras and radio microphones to say she stood by the accusations of sex offences she had made.

Glitter was found not guilty of the offences, but controversy was added to the case because of the deal agreed between Ms Brown and the News of the World with - guess who - behind the scenes.

If you were to add up the proportion of newspaper column inches surrounding those three stories alone, the importance of the Clifford touch would be quite clear.

Some of Clifford's clients
Geoffrey Boycott during French trial
Runaway parents Jeff and Jennifer Bramley
Octuplet's mother Mandy Allwood
Former spy Richard Tomlinson
Former Saudi nurse Lucille McLaughlan
Brain damaged boxer Michael Watson

And it's not limited to the last few weeks. Name an individual involved in a high profile news story in recent years and as often as not, Max Clifford is somewhere there in the background. Even Jimi Hendrix was an early client.

It all means that Clifford is probably the only member of his profession who has made any impact on the wider world. And that, inevitably, has had an impact on his business.

Advising anyone thinking of kissing and telling to hire a professional publicist, he said: "The problem is, there's only only person who people know - me - and I'm not looking for business."

Tories familiar ground

The Archer case is a return to familiar territory for Clifford. A supporter of New Labour, he was instrumental in the Tory sleaze tsunami before the last general election.

From David Mellor's toe-job in Chelsea football strip with actress Antonia de Sancha, to the wife and daughters of Judge James Harkess who had affairs with the late Alan Clark, Max Clifford played his part.

"I am anti-Establishment," he said before the 1997 election. "The more I see of the Establishment, the more hypocrisy, double standards and corruption I see. I am very much a Labour voter."

Mandy Allwood, whose story of octuplet pregnancy was sold to the papers
For people caught up in the news, the attraction of having Clifford representing you is clear: when going through treacherous territory, go with someone who knows the lie of the land.

And there's also the attraction of the fee. "Unless someone represents you, the chances are you'll make very little, because the papers will turn you over," he said.

Doing what he does best, he publicises the role of the publicist: "With a professional you get protection, maximum returns for minimum aggravation and the biggest fee. It can be hugely satisfying, it can be justice, and there can be huge sums of money to be made."

And for newspapers there is an attraction. Although the stories might cost, they are a source of juicy ready-made front pages.

Under attack

...[C]ircumstances where Mr Max Clifford is free to pimp his stories around Fleet Street...puts into jeopardy our whole system of justice
Lord McNally
Mr Clifford's high profile has not enamoured him to everyone, though. On Monday Liberal Democrat peer Lord McNally said a situation where "Max Clifford is free to pimp his stories around Fleet Street, where Fleet Street editors are seemingly free to ignore the Press Complaints Commission code with impunity and where juries are now taking evidence so tainted, as tainted evidence, it really puts in jeopardy our whole system of justice."

And there have also been attacks of a completely different order. Earlier this year, Mr Clifford received death threats demanding he axe links with the five men who were suspected of the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Saying he had not represented them, but had merely put them in touch with ITV interviewer Martin Bashir, he said: "The last time I received such threats was when I represented OJ Simpson. I was attacked then for standing up for a black guy and now I am being attacked for standing up for a white guy."

OJ Simpson: Clifford helped arrange high profile trip to London
Friends refer to how much work he does for charity, donating after-dinner speaking and TV appearance fees to good causes. He also organises tennis coaching for children who live in his neighbourhood.

His grown-up daughter has been severely disabled from her youth by rheumatoid arthritis, and Clifford raises significant funds for causes helping sick children. His daughter, on whom friends say he dotes, is to start working with her father's firm when she graduates.

He has also used his influence to persuade stars such as Muhammed Ali to visit the Children's Cancer Unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

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