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Maxwell Frank Clifford (born 6 April 1943) is an Englishmarker publicist. Although his client range is varied, he is a controversial figure for often representing unpopular clients (such as those accused or convicted of crimes) and acting as an agent to people selling "kiss-and-tell" stories to tabloid newspapers.

A traditional Labour supporter, Clifford openly vowed to bring down the government of John Major because he personally felt that the National Health Service was mismanaged, having dealt with the NHS in attempting to obtain treatment for his daughter, who has juvenile idiopathic arthritis. While he is primarily known for helping to bring damaging allegations to light, he insists that today most of his work is concerned with concealment of stories.


Maxwell Frank Clifford was born in Kingston upon Thamesmarker, Surreymarker in 1943. His parents were, Frank Clifford, an electrician and Lilian (née Boffee). Born into a poor family, Clifford was the youngest of four children (eldest sister, two brothers) by nearly 10 years to his next sibling. The family survived their father's regular bouts of unemployment, gambling and alcoholism through handouts from their grandmother and latterly from his sister's employment as PA to the London Vice President of Morgan Guarantee Trust Bank.


Leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, and after being sacked within four months of his first job at Ely's department store in Wimbledonmarker, his brother Bernard used his print union connections to gain Clifford a job as editorial assistant on the Eagle comic. When the publication moved premises, Clifford took redundancy and bought his first house and gained work with the South London Press company to train as a journalist. He now lives in Surrey.


After working in newspapers for a few years, writing an occasional record/music column and running a disco, Clifford replied to an advertisement and joined as the second member of the EMI press office in 1962, under Chief Press Officer Syd Gillingham. As the youngest and the only trained journalist in a team of four, Clifford claims he was given the job of promoting an unknown and unwanted group called The Beatles early in their career, including of their first tour of the United Statesmarker, though this is denied by other journalists who claim he was little more than a publicity assistant.

Chris Hutchins PR agency

After Gillingham left EMI, he asked Clifford to join him at Chris Hutchins' PR agency. Among the artists they represented were Paul and Barry Ryan, who introduced Clifford to their stepfather, impressario Harold Davidson who handled the UK affairs of Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland

Max Clifford Associates

In 1970 aged 27, and after Syd Gillingham retired, Clifford left Chris Hutchins and started his own agency named Max Clifford Associates. Based in the offices of Joe Cocker's manager, he started off by representing Sinatra, Cocker, Paul and Barry Ryan, Don Partridge, and Marvin Gaye. He later also represented Muhammad Ali and Marlon Brando.

Freddie Starr

On 13 March 1986, The Sun carried as its main headline: FREDDIE STARR ATE MY HAMSTER - one of the most famous British tabloid newspaper headlines of all time. According to the story invented by Clifford, Starr had been staying at the home of Vince McCaffrey (who was co-writing Starr's biography at the time), and his 23-year-old girlfriend Lea La Salle in Birchwoodmarker, Warringtonmarker, Lancashiremarker when the incident took place. Starr was alleged to have returned home from a performance at a Manchestermarker nightclub in the small hours of the morning and demanded that La Salle make him a sandwich. When she refused, he went into the kitchen and put her pet hamster, 'Supersonic', between two slices of bread and proceeded to eat it.

Clifford counter spun the story the next day, when he flew with a journalist from The Sun to Starr's home in Waltham St Lawrencemarker, Berkshire with another hamster the newspaper had called sandwich, which was photographed with claimed vegetarian Starr. Starr now admits in interviews that this story was untrue, but brought him much-needed publicity for his forthcoming tour.

The story was one of the first examples where, rather than PR agents managing what went into the media or confirming a journalist's storyline, Clifford created a fast-selling story which he sold to the media, and its counter line follow-up. As a result, it brought Clifford to the British public's attention. Clifford and Starr ended their connection shortly afterwards, and Clifford later used background material to fuel the media storylines around Starr's later revelations during his divorce of wife battering, alcoholism, and drug taking.

Pamella Bordes

Clifford was approached by a friendly madam of a brothel who had provided Clifford's client with various services, worried about publicity from an investigative reporter from the News of the World. Clifford asked the madam to reveal details of her girls and clients, and found that one prostitute, Pamella Bordes, was simultaneously dating: Andrew Neil (then editor of The Sunday Times); Donald Trelford (then editor of The Observer); Conservative minister for sport Colin Moynihan and billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. Clifford rang News of the World editor Patsy Chapman and drip-fed her the story of Bordes through the investigative reporter she was using on the madam. The story, published in March 1989 under the head line CALL GIRL WORKS IN COMMONS, created a near Christine Keeler like image for Bordes when it went to press, since it was discovered she had a House of Commons security pass arranged by MPs David Shaw and Henry Bellingham. Clifford claims Bordes was never his client, and that he earned his fee for "writing" the story, which ultimately served the purpose of avoiding the madam any adverse publicity or court case.


Clifford has since represented various clients, including: David Copperfield; Mohamed Al-Fayed; Simon Cowell; brain-damaged boxer Michael Watson; Liverpoolmarker left-wing politician Derek Hatton, for whom Clifford created an affair in order to change his image; former MI6marker officer Richard Tomlinson; Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, who was imprisoned for fatally shooting a burglar; Rebecca Loos, when she negotiated with the press about her alleged affair with England football captain David Beckham; Celebrity Big Brother 2007marker winner Shilpa Shetty; and Jade Goody, in the period of the reality star's illness and death.

Clifford also represents Gillian McKeith, saying of her doctorate in nutrition potentially being misconstrued as a medical degree by viewers of her advertisements: "personally, I wish it had never been mentioned. She never needed it, and it's done nothing but cause her embarrassment."

Reporter Louis Theroux followed Clifford in the BBC Two 2002 programme When Louis Met... Max Clifford. During filming Max, it appeared that Max was trying to set up Louis during a PR stunt in Sainsbury'smarker however it backfired after Max was heard on his microphone lying, unaware it was still on. Clifford is regarded as being one of the shrewdest practitioners of his trade, and in July 2005 he told reporters that he would not represent Michael Jackson after he was found innocent of child abuse charges, saying: "It would be the hardest job in PR after [representing] Saddam Hussein".

Gay clients

Clifford has given assistance to clients who wish to conceal their sexual orientation from the public. Clifford claimed that he has been approached twice by major football clubs to help make players present a "straight" image. In an interview with Pink News reported on 5 August 2009 Clifford said that if a gay football player came out his career would be over: “To my knowledge there is only one top-flight professional gay footballer who came out - Justin Fashanu. He ended up committing suicide. I have been advising a top premiership star who is bisexual. If it came out that he had gay tendencies, his career would be over in two minutes. Should it be? No, but if you go on the terraces and hear the way fans are, and also, that kind of general attitude that goes with football, it’s almost like going back to the dark ages.” Clifford has said so far none of his clients have been outed.

The Major government

In light of Clifford's view of the deteriorating state of the NHS, and the moral difference with members of the John Major government, Clifford worked to expose stories to help the Labour government in to power. Although not instrumental in exposing David Mellor's affair with Antonia de Sancha, Clifford's battle in representing de Sancha against the contrived post-spin story of the "family man Mellor" handled by counter PR Tim Bell ultimately derailed John Major's 'Back to Basics' agenda. Clifford invented the story which claimed Mellor made love in Chelsea F.C. football kit, though he was blocked from mentioning it in his memoirs. Clifford also helped to expose Jeffrey Archer's perjury in the 1980s during his candidacy for the post of Mayor of London.

In 2005, Clifford paid damages to settle defamation proceedings brought by Neil and Christine Hamilton after he represented a woman who was later found to have falsely accused the Hamiltons of sexual assault.

The Blair government

Although a supporter of the Labour party, Clifford's approach in dealing with the Blair government has been similar to that which he employed with Major's preceding Conservative government. The first instance of this was the story of Welsh Assembly leader Ron Davies. Then Clifford was accused by David Blunkett at the beginning of November 2005 of having a role in his second resignation. This derived from claims made on behalf of a much younger woman, who had become involved with Blunkett, over Blunkett's business interests, which were published in The Times. Later that week Clifford was accused of arranging a distraction from the assault made by his friend Rebekah Wade on her husband, EastEnders actor Ross Kemp, via the "coincidence" of the other "Mitchell brother", Steve McFadden being in a similar incident with an ex-partner. Clifford denied all responsibility.

On 26 April 2006, Clifford represented John Prescott's diary secretary Tracey Temple, in selling her story for "an awful lot more" than £100,000 to the Mail on Sunday. The story was about the two year affair between Prescott and Temple which took place between 2002 and 2004

On 4 May 2006, Clifford announced his intention to expose politicians who fail to abide by the standards expected of them in public office. He called his team of undercover investigators "a dedicated and loyal bunch".

Unpaid work and death threats

Clifford sometimes works for no payment. A contestant on the BBC gameshow The Weakest Link who was a prostitute turned to Clifford for help with tabloid harassment: he did not charge her because he claimed he felt sorry for her. He also worked without fee for Martyn and Kay Tott, who tried to get £3m from Camelot on the winning lottery ticket they bought and mislaid.

On the other hand, he has received death threats demanding that he sever links with the five men who were suspected of the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence. Clifford says he has never represented them, but had merely put them in touch with ITV interviewer Martin Bashir. He also received death threats when he represented O.J. Simpson during his trial.

19 Entertainment

Clifford has a record of representing individuals who attempt to defame rival publicist Simon Fuller or his clients. In 2001 he came to client Simon Cowell's defence when Fuller's 19 Entertainment attempted to sue for copyright over X Factor's similarities to Pop Idol. Clifford also acted for Rebecca Loos when she was negotiating with the press over an alleged affair with David Beckham, another of Fuller's clients. Another example of Clifford's animosity toward Fuller was when he broke the story of Sven-Göran Eriksson's affair with Faria Alam, both of the English FA, to the tabloid press - the England football team also happen to be clients of Fuller's.

Jade Goody

His more recent major work was as a publicist for Jade Goody. His very public work, in conjunction with Goody, is credited with improving the uptake of cervical smears in the UK..

Carter Ruck and 'Starsuckers'

On October 23rd 2009, the makers of the documentary film Starsuckers reported that they had received an email from the law firm Carter Ruck, acting on behalf of Max Clifford and threatening them with an injunction over their film..

Personal life

Clifford married Elizabeth Louise Porter at St Barnabas Church in Southfieldsmarker, London on 3 June 1967. Elizabeth died in Suttonmarker, Greater Londonmarker, on 8 March 2003 after a nine month battle with lung cancer, the pair had been together for 40 years.Their only child, a daughter Louise (born 1 June 1971), has lived with juvenile idiopathic arthritis since childhood.

On 17 April 2008, Clifford announced on ITV1's This Morning show that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer six months previously.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Clifford ran and took part in discreet weekly adult birthday parties for his friends and clients in South London. This brought him into contact with various madams and prostitutes, a connection which still serves him well in his business to satisfy the often bizarre needs of his clients, as well as an early warning system of interesting behaviour of various persons.

A life-long fan of Jaguar cars, he now drives a Bentley Arnage T.

Charity works

Clifford developed epilepsy at the age of 46 as a result of early life brain scarring, and was banned from driving for 12 months as a result. He does a considerable amount of fund-raising and media work for a children's hospice at the Royal Marsden Hospital, of which he is a patron. He also handled the publicity for the Daniels family and helped set up the Rhys Daniels Trust from resultant media fees to combat Batten's Disease.

Tips for fame

In a show for Fame TV in December 2006, Clifford gave his tips on gaining fame in the world today as:
  1. Appear on a reality series
  2. Enter a talent contest
  3. Be abysmal on a talent show
  4. Gain fame by association
  5. Date a celebrity
  6. Flaunt your body
  7. Date a Royal Family member
  8. Make a home sex video
  9. Be a success on MySpace
  10. Be in the right place at the right time

Popular culture

Clifford is mentioned in the lyrics to Black Box Recorder's song Being Number One, from their album Passionoia.


  1. Laura Barton "'Life has changed - it's nastier now'", The Guardian, 28 April 2008. Retrieved on 26 March 2009.
  2. 'Max Clifford: read all about it! Max Clifford and Angela Levine, Virgin Books (ISBN 1-85227-237-6)
  3. Summerskill, Bill. "Paper tiger", The Observer, July 28, 2002, retrieved November 14, 2006.
  4. Roy, Amit. "A trip down memory lane", The Telegraph, 9 October 2005, retrieved November 14, 2006.
  5. "Billionaire arms dealer breaks his silence over claims he hired Heather Mills as escort", ThisisLondon, November 11, 2006, retrieved November 14, 2006.
  6. US fans shun Michael Jackson CD
  7. BBC NEWS | Magazine | Why are there no openly gay footballers?
  8. Guy Adams "Pandora: 'Sun' shines on Chelsea fan Mellor", The Independent, 26 April 2006, as reproduced on the Find Articles website. Retrieved on 26 March 2009.
  9. Clifford pays out over Hamiltons slur | Media | MediaGuardian
  10. Prescott angry at lover's claims
  11. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Cowell 'stole reality show Idea'
  12. ENOUGH ROPE with Andrew Denton - episode 44: Max Clifford (31/05/2004)
  13. BBC NEWS | UK | FA row woman resigns
  17. Deaths England and Wales 1984-2006
  18. " Max Clifford's wife dies 2008-04-07"
  19. Carole Cadwalladr "Circus Maximus", Observer magazine, 23 July 2006. Retrieved on 26 March 200.
  20. Car Cruzin | Men And Motors | PROGRAMMES
  21. Media Medium: Max Clifford
  22. BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Max Clifford offers guide to fame

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