Woman 'contemplated suicide after Max Clifford abuse'

PR guru Max Clifford, 70, arrives at Southwark Crown Court today. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

A woman said she contemplated suicide after being sexually abused by PR guru Max Clifford who "took pleasure in degrading her", a court has heard.

The alleged victim, who gave evidence from behind a screen to protect her identity, claimed the publicist ordered her to perform sex acts on him after telling her she could be the British Jodie Foster.

Clifford faces 11 counts of indecent assault relating to seven alleged victims, aged from 14 to 19, between 1966 and 1984. He denies all of the charges.

A woman told Southwark Crown Court today that she considered taking her life after the defendant had claimed that a photographer took a picture of her performing a sex act on him.

I thought 'My life has ended'. I thought 'Well, whatever happens now, it's huge and it's going to be awful and I'm going to lose everything'. I said 'I want to kill myself', I thought about killing myself.

The woman told jurors she had "a picture in my head" of how she was going to kill herself.

She also wrote and delivered a letter to Clifford where she claimed he had "blackmailed me with photos you'd said you'd taken."

You blackmailed me with lies about photographs that had been taken. Fooled me into believing that you were somehow protecting me by stopping them from being published.

The alleged victim claimed she met Clifford in Torremolinos, Spain, in 1977, when she was on holiday with her family.

She claims he impressed her parents and told them he could find her modelling work and when she got back to the UK, Clifford told her in his office that "you could be the UK version" of American actress Jodie Foster, a jury heard.

As the meeting progressed, Clifford allegedly asked the woman to take her skirt off and then her bra, which she claimed she was reluctant to do.

He said he could see my nipples through the lace in the bra. He said 'You are being ridiculous'. I was really uncomfortable and felt really nervous and really vulnerable, but I felt stupid because he kept talking and talking and saying 'You're being so childish'.

The woman said she believed she "couldn't get out of this situation" and did take her bra off, the court heard.

When asked what happened next, she replied:

He made a derogatory comment. He said that, although I was nice, that I wouldn't be able to do topless modelling, which I was really shocked by. I was shocked, the fact he said something horrible to me about my figure, because I had been so brave to take my bra off and I was shocked he was talking about topless modelling because we had just been talking about me being the UK's Jodie Foster. I was really confused. I didn't know what was going on.

She also claimed that Clifford would drive round to her house in south London and talk to her parents before taking her out in his yellow Jaguar to abuse her.

She said he was "very robotic and controlling" during the abuse, a court heard.

I remember being frightened by his distance, the way he was. It was very cool and without any kind of emotion. I was frightened and I felt vulnerable, stupid, but also I believed him, actually, I believed him at that point that that was what I had to do.

Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC asked the witness: "For him to trust you?"

"Yes," she replied.

When asked by Ms Cottage why she did not report the alleged abuse, the woman said:

I was just completely at a loss. I didn't know really what was going on and I didn't know how to make it stop. It frightened me. The bigger it got there was no chance I could tell anybody about it. I had already missed the chance. It was just so out of my comfort zone to tell anybody else. It felt instinctively wrong and horrible and I felt if I said anything (to) my parents the reaction would be huge, it would be like a bomb going off.

She added that she feared being "disowned" and that she could not stop seeing Clifford because he arranged the meetings and "my parents were looking forward to seeing him".