Assault claims aged me: Clifford

Times Series: PR guru Max Clifford denies 11 indecent assaults PR guru Max Clifford denies 11 indecent assaults

PR guru Max Clifford has said indecent assault accusations are "a very dark cloud" over him as he prepares to face trial.

The 70-year-old denies 11 counts of the offence relating to seven alleged victims, aged from 14 to 19, between 1966 and 1984.

Today, jury selection began at Southwark Crown Court and it is expected that the prosecution case will be opened by Rosina Cottage QC tomorrow.

Outside court, Clifford said the 15 months since his arrest had aged him.

He said: "It has been for 15 months a very dark cloud for myself, my family and loved ones."

Eighteen potential jurors were chosen today from a pool of about 60 and a final panel is due to be sworn in tomorrow.

Wearing a dark jacket and grey trousers with a white shirt and patterned tie, Clifford, from Hersham in Surrey, listened to proceedings through a hearing loop from the glass-walled dock.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC told the potential jurors: "The trial cannot be heard without a jury.

"It is a fundamental principle of our justice system that someone accused of a serious offence is tried by a jury selected at random."

He said sitting on a trial expected to last up to six weeks might be "a considerable burden", but that jurors might find service "an interesting and responsible" experience.

The potential jurors were read a list of names and asked if they knew any of the people mentioned.

The judge also asked them: "Are you or any family member or close friend connected to the Yewtree investigation?"

He described the inquiry as one "looking into a number of alleged offences of historic indecent assaults".

The third question posed was: "Have you or any family member or close friend worked with or for Max Clifford in a professional capacity, or in voluntary or charity work?"

Sending the panel home until tomorrow at 10am, the judge warned them not to discuss the case with anyone.

"Do not speak to anyone and do not let anyone speak to you about the case you are going to be trying.

"You know it involves Max Clifford and you know it involves indecent assault, so please do not let anyone speak to you about that."

He also warned them about being influenced by publicity of the case and told them not to search on the internet for any information relating to the case, saying: "You are not permitted to look on the internet for any information in relation to the case you are trying."

Clifford, famed for representing celebrities including Simon Cowell and Jade Goody, was arrested in December 2012 and charged last April.

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