LONDON (AP) – British police Thursday arrested prominent publicist Max Clifford in connection to the broad investigation into child sex abuse spurred by the Jimmy Savile case.
Clifford’s lawyer, Charlotte Harris, confirmed the early morning arrest.
“Max Clifford is being interviewed by police,” she said in a statement. “Mr. Clifford will assist the police as best he can with their inquiries. When we are in a position to provide further information, we will.”
Police did not identify Clifford, as is customary, but said that a man in his 60s was arrested Thursday morning in Surrey, south of London, on suspicion of sexual offenses and is being questioned at a central London police station.
Clifford, 69, is Britain’s best-known PR guru, a man with an uncanny ability to either place stories in newspapers _ or keep them out.
His clients include entertainment mogul Simon Cowell, former Harrod’s owner Mohamed al-Fayed and the late reality star Jade Goody, but they also include dozens of ordinary people who found themselves at the vortex of the news and who sought to sell their stories to the press.
For years, the affable, well-dressed, white-haired Clifford has been the “go-to” guy for celebrities and others seeking help with public relations fiascos. He is also frequently quoted in the press offering advice on celebrity damage control and marketing strategies.
Police said the arrest was part of an investigation called Operation Yewtree, a wide-ranging inquiry into alleged sexual offenses committed by Savile and others. Savile was a BBC entertainer who has in recent months been accused of serial sexual abuse of underage girls. He died last year without having been charged with any offenses.
Police have said there may be several hundred abuse victims.
The Savile allegations have caused a major embarrassment for his employer, the BBC, which has been accused of failing to report on investigations into Savile’s alleged crimes.
Four others have been arrested in the investigation of the alleged abuse. None has been charged.
British media have identified the suspects as including comedian Freddie Starr and former glam rock star Gary Glitter.
Clifford told the Associated Press in October that he was receiving calls from many celebrities and entertainers worried they would be caught up in the widening Savile investigation.
“They’re phoning me and saying, `Max, I’m worried that I’m going to be implicated.’ A lot of them can’t remember what they did last week, never mind 30 or 40 years ago,” he said.
Clifford did not answer calls placed to his mobile phone.
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