British PR guru Max Clifford convicted of sex assaults

British publicist Max Clifford arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, on April 28, 2014. British public relations guru Max Clifford was convicted on Monday for a string of sexual assaults following a police investigation launched in the wake of
British publicist Max Clifford arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, on April 28, 2014. British public relations guru Max Clifford was convicted on Monday for a string of sexual assaults following a police investigation launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - British public relations guru Max Clifford was convicted on Monday for a string of sexual assaults following a police investigation launched in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Jurors at a London court found the 71-year-old guilty of eight counts of indecent assault relating to four women as young as 15. The silver-haired celebrity publicist was found not guilty of two other counts, while the jury was unable to reach a verdict on another count.

He was granted bail ahead of sentencing on Friday.

"You must realise that the fact I have given you bail is no indication of what the final sentence will be," judge Anthony Leonard told him.

Clifford is the first high-profile figure to be convicted under Operation Yewtree, the police probe set up to investigate allegations of sex offences following the Savile scandal. The prosecution told the trial that Clifford's victims came forward following revelations in 2012 that the late BBC presenter Savile - a household name in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s - had been a serial sex offender.

The offences date from before Clifford achieved widespread fame in Britain with his links to several well-known celebrity news stories. Prosecutors alleged that he used his showbusiness connections to "bully and manipulate" young women into sex acts.

Clifford had told the court the claims were "a load of lies", with his victims being "fantasists and opportunists".

Following a six-week trial, jurors had been in their eighth day of deliberations when they returned to the courtroom to deliver their verdicts.