The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator's Notes: Max Clifford's conviction vindicates juries. But so did the acquittals

Plus: Fighting Auberon Waugh over Europe, and what Britain will lose without Christianity

3 May 2014

9:00 AM

3 May 2014

9:00 AM

The conviction of Max Clifford for indecent assaults feels like a vindication of the jury system, as did the acquittal of the many other showbiz characters charged under Operation Yewtree. One reason I keep raising questions of justice about the current obsession with paedophilia is out of suspicion that those most zealous in their accusations are unhealthily interested in the subject. This was the case with Clifford himself and, of course, with the newspapers with which he did business. Celebrity culture is, in essence, a form of pornography which incites powerful people to exploit unpowerful people. It acquires an extra twist of perversion when it turns on those it has incited. It should not be allowed that escape route.

‘She touched every child she taught’, it is said of poor Ann Maguire, the teacher stabbed to death in Leeds. The phrase illustrates the difference between the sexes. If the same were said of a man, he would be arrested.

So far, I am disinclined to vote for Ukip in the forthcoming Euro-elections. Our area has been represented for many years by the great Daniel Hannan, the leading practising Eurosceptic of our times, so I have resisted the Faragiste temptation. But I felt a bit wobbly after reading an interview with Nigel Farage in the Guardian. According to its author, Decca Aitkenhead, Ukip supporters — though not the libertarian Nigel himself — want to make dressing up for the theatre compulsory. They are so right. It is now almost compulsory not to dress up for the theatre, even in the West End. This has had the predictable result that theatre-goers pay less attention, eat and send texts all through the performance. Although ‘audience participation’ has been theatre orthodoxy for 40 years now, the simplest way for an audience to participate in a production is to dress up. By doing so, they recognise they are part of the performance. (For this very reason, audiences at experimental theatres should not dress up.) If they feel no duty of performance, they become just like a cinema audience, indifferent to the live reality of what the actors are doing.


Continentals tend to be more persuasive for the European Union than our home-grown Europhiles, who are rarely honest about what it entails. The only English public figure who ever made the case well was the late Auberon Waugh. He argued the EU was a good thing ‘precisely [because of] the limitations it sets on the influence of British politicians and the British electorate’. He thought it much less harmful if we could all be run by ‘Belgian ticket inspectors’. When we argued in print about this 20 years ago, Bron looked forward to the single currency, because ‘no single government will be able to inflate by printing money to overspend at will. At a stroke, it takes away the greatest power for mischief which our politicians possess.’ I trusted his instinct for who the bossiest people were and how best to frustrate them, so I fretted. But he has been proved wrong about the euro. Far from reining in politicians, it enabled them to borrow without limit because they believed that someone else would stand behind it. That someone else is ultimately Germany who, understandably, wants no repetition. The likely solution, therefore, is rule not by Belgian, but by German ticket inspectors. An altogether more serious matter.

One short addition to the lengthy debate about whether Britain is a Christian country. If it is not, or ceases to be so, this will not harm the Christian faith. Christianity was born in persecution and, in the grim phrase, ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.’ The harm will be to the country. All those citizens who, without knowing much about the source, have found their lives improved by the practice of Christian charity and neighbourliness, will suffer — only gradually, but more with each passing year.

The infiltration of Birmingham schools by an Islamist faction is undoubtedly a great scandal. But the objections to what these governors are doing lay emphasis on the wrong things. Is segregation by sex within a classroom, for example, really so wicked? If you go past pre-war state schools, you often see separate entrances with the words ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ carved in stone. These are not signs of discrimination against women, more of a preoccupation with modesty which is considered old-fashioned today, but probably matters to moderate Muslim parents as well as fanatical ones. The issue between the sexes is surely not about whether they sit together, but whether they learn together, the same things, to the same standard. It is reported that in some of these schools, girls are not allowed to ask questions. That truly is a bad thing.

Continuing this column’s search for startling facts about the first world war, I learnt the other day that Sellar’s and Yeatman’s 1066 and All That was so named as a deliberate echo of Robert Graves’s Goodbye to All That. I went back to the text to remind myself what it concludes about the conflict: ‘King Edward’s new policy of peace was very successful and culminated in the Great War to End War. This pacific and inevitable struggle … was the cause of nowadays and the End of History [so Fukuyama is a plagiarist].’ Then there was ‘The Peace to End Peace’ which ‘was terrible and costly … and was signed afterwards in the ever-memorable Chamber of Horrors at Versailles’. As a result, ‘America was thus clearly top nation and history came to a.’ It is interesting to read this now, during the Ukraine crisis. For the first time in my life, I seriously wonder whether America will remain top nation much longer.

In this wonderful spring, the woods and valleys round us are looking particularly lovely, but they are too silent. Now it is May, and we have heard a cuckoo only once. The last cuckoo is becoming the favoured subject, instead of the first.

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Show comments
  • Terry Field

    I wonder if he is ‘guilty’ because nobody likes him?
    Powerful stuff, popularity.

    • Liz

      Or perhaps nobody likes him because he’s a serial adulterer and sex abuser?

      • Terry Field

        Lizzie old girl, he was disliked for many years because of his commercial business; the whiter than white journalists now making sanctimonious comments are the ones who fed from him as a bee does from nectar; His lack of wholesomeness made it easy to prosecute him. I read one ‘victim’ went to him to put her breasts all over page three. He said they were not up to snuff. She was then portrayed as ‘destroyed’ as only mummy and daddy had seen her in the altogether!. But SHE wanted to spread herself over The Sun! Who is the ”victim” here!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        He is no saint but this seems more like a puritanical feeding frenzy – possibly by folk like you – than a calm environment when truth and proportionality may prevail. I suspect he is not a very nice chap, but I equally laugh at the new17th C ’roundhead’ mentality in Britain – egged on of course by the burn-the-bra feminist types – in whose lamentable ranks you, Lizzie old girl, plainly stand!!!!!!!
        HOW DO,YOU KNOW OF HIS ADULTERY – WERE YOU A PARTY? DID HE SPURN YOU? IS THAT WHY YOU ARE SO ‘PERSONAL’ IN YOUR OBSERVATIONS.
        HELL KNOWS NO FURY……………………ETC!

    • Liz

      Why have you put “guilty” in inverted commas? Because you don’t think he did it or you don’t think what he did should be a crime?

      If the former – why not?
      If the latter – stay away from people.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Perhaps I could respond to that: Within the context of the period (30 to 37 years ago), what Max is alleged to have done was hardly more than misdemeanors. That was the celebrity fringe benefits scene in the `70s and `80s. Living in UK in 2014, I appreciate it must be hard to see the big picture, but you need to realise that Britain`s gone progressively paedophile crazy. Such that it can take up to 18 months of residing in a more “normal” country to purge British insanity from your psyche. As example, when a child gets into the lift, you don`t immediately step out. Research Operation Ore as the UK end of Operation Landslide to grasp where this can lead. Convicting middle age, middle class men with no previous on credit card evidence alone.
        Truly, “Paedophile Britain” is worthy of a top 10 ranking on your. “Emigrate, reasons to” list.
        Jack, Japan Alps

      • Terry Field

        I am not so naive as to consider the justice system as being independent of public opinion. I doubt that Jeffries would have been able to hang quite so many as he did in todays world. Are you really so naive as to think that guilt is unchanging over time. The law does not take that view; thank goodness. If Clifford did things that broke the laws of the land at the time he did them then then he is gulity and is righly punished.Is that the case here???
        And now a related question for you.
        I know what your answer will be, but it is worth a try all the same.
        A short time ago, a small group of moslems in Oxford were imprisoned for running a sex exploitation ring that preyed of ‘kufar’ (ie people who are less then pigs to them) vulnerable white girls who had no normal circles to protect them.
        At the time a very senior government law officer said, in the public domain, that in excess of 80 other men had been identified by the police for the same or very similar offence.
        Since then no charges or court cases have been forthcoming. I suggest to you that the reason is clear as a bell – that if 80 moslems and possibly others were so charged, found guilty and sent to prison , the numbers of white girl and women victims of these people and their massive client list clients would be so enormous that it would shatter peaceful; (haha) relations between the ‘ethnic communities’ (haha).
        So – the Law appears to be a dependent of the Home Office determination of social attitudes.
        And this is not a part of the consideration of who to prosecute in the post-Savile enquiry?? Come on!!
        Come on now Lizzie old girl, lets see your wooden unthinking bigotry on display!!!

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Or lack thereof.
      “Why does everyone take an instant dislike to me?”
      “Well, it saves a lot of time.”

      • Terry Field

        Thank you!
        Humour in an uncharacteristically turgid column for the dear old Spectator.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Keep in mind that this conviction puts all those aging rockers in frame. Entertaining teen groupies in the dressing room after a performance. Eight years for taking advantages of jail-bait, hot-to-trot twinkies, “offences” that occurred 30 to 37 years ago, what`s the subliminal message? Making sure British men realise that if they step too far out of line slammer time beckons. Max must have upset a few influential people recently.

    • Liz

      Entertaining twinkies and jailbait – is that what we’re calling grooming and forced oral s*x these days?

      Taking advantage – that’s what we used to call s*x without informed consent 37 years ago isn’t it? Or, rape for short.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Remember “Patsy” with her “Mick and the boys” routine. You really think that was a fiction? Top bragging rights were sex with all members of the band on the same night.
        “I thought I said no groupies.” No one forced these jail-bait twinkies to the dressing room after the performance. If they weren`t prepared to put out they never got to first base. Supply and demand.

        • Liz

          Do you think you might like to stop referring to child sex abuse victims as jailbait, it’s repulsive, sexist and very revealing about your own tendencies.

          And whether or not they consented to entering somebody’s office is entirely unrelated to whether they consented to give oral s*x. Or to you are female people consenting by default?

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        “Forced oral sex”
        Think about it, Liz. Talk about putting your head in the lion`s mouth.

        • Liz

          Because a frightened woman alone with a sexually abusive man is just like a lion.

    • Liz

      Too far out of line – that line is called “consent”. That thing children and coerced or defrauded people can’t give.

      The subliminal message is don’t sexually assault people I think. Clearly in your case it needs to be less subliminal and more explicit; you sound dangerous.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        “you sound dangerous”
        Here we go again, the old witch hunt mentality. Essentially you`re the 21st century equivalent of anyone that defended a person accused or convicted of heresy against Mother Church. A dangerous position as you were likely to share the same fate.
        Britain; hate it and leave it.
        Jack, Japan Alps

        • Liz

          Except witches didn’t exist. You with your disregard for female consent, sense of victim hood and degrading sexist terminology, do.

  • Liz

    “She touched every child she taught”

    They mean metaphorically!

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      You know that`s where you miss here in Japan, women with a sense of humour. Except those girls from Osaka.

  • Liz

    Most rapists and sex abusers get away with it. The convicted are just the tip of the ice berg. Everyone knows that.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Common ground there, iceberg.

  • Liz

    “The phrase illustrates the difference between the sexes. If the same were said of a man, he would be arrested.”

    The phrase may well illustrate the difference between the sexes, but not as you imply because of bias, but because men commit 99% of all child sexual abuse. It would be ludicrous to treat women and men equivalently under such circumstances.

  • Liz

    “One reason I keep raising questions of justice about the current obsession with paedophilia is out of suspicion that those most zealous in their accusations are unhealthily interested in the subject. ”

    Do I need to point it out, Charles?

    The Spectator is no less obsessed and zealous than any tabloid publication on this topic. But unfortunately, usually with the angle of undermining the accusers, justifying the accused and trivialising the crimes (Rod Liddle being the most dedicated on that front). Not sure why unless it’s just the fun of being controversial. The other explanation is that this is what the men of the Spectator actually believe.

  • Liz

    So what did he do? (The following, taken from the judge’s sentencing remarks, may be upsetting to some readers.)

    One victim was just 15 years old. Clifford told her that she was pretty, and “began to groom her by telling her that she could be the UK’s version of Jodie Foster”, He made her show him her breasts, “though she did not want to”. He visited her home and gained the trust of her parents, who let him take their daughter out on numerous evenings, assuming she was meeting important career contacts. Parking the car in various hiding spots, he would pull out his erect penis, and show the young girl how to masturbate him, instructing her to do so as a demonstration of trust.

    “On one occasion you penetrated her with two of your fingers”, the sentencing remarks continue. “On another occasion you degraded her by taking her to buy a revealing Wonderbra and then taking her to the home of a friend of yours and telling her to dress in bra and pants and try to seduce the man whilst you watched.” At other times he told her to perform oral sex on him. “You instructed her how to do it and criticized her performance.”

    The second time that Clifford coerced the 15-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him, he told her that on the previous occasion “a photographer had taken photographs from a position so close in the bushes that you could see her freckles on the photograph”. The Judge comments, “If this was your attempt to make her even more subservient to your wishes, it backfired.” Unable to speak to her family or friends, terrified that she would be exposed, the young girl became suicidal, and threatened to kill herself. “I do not judge that it was an idle threat.”

    Another girl, a 12-year-old friend of his daughter, was targeted during a holiday. Clifford: “Having groomed her by playing a tickling game with her in the swimming pool, you got her parents’ permission to take her to a Jacuzzi in the hotel complex. . . Whilst your daughter was absent and you were in the Jacuzzi with the 12-year-old you put your hand down her bikini and onto her pubic mound and asked if she was ticklish there. You then got hold of her hand and moved it onto your erect penis and started moving her hand up and down quite slowly. You stopped when your daughter came to the Jacuzzi.”

    A third victim mentioned was 17 (or possibly 18, if it matters to anyone who isn’t Mick Hume) when she came to Clifford looking to start a modelling career. On a pretext, the agent told her to remove her dress so that he could “assess” her. He then began to masturbate in front of the presumably mortified girl as she put her dress back on, continuing as he took a call from his wife.

    “When you had finished the call you came over to her and tried to get her to take your erect penis in her mouth whilst you continued to masturbate. You were trying to force your penis into her mouth, even putting your hand round her head to force it in and you managed to achieve a partial entry. You ejaculated over the left side of her face but mainly on her collar bone.”

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