Friday, 2 May 2014

Will the sentence of Max Clifford send out a good message?

Max Clifford with his daughter
With the failure of the prosecutions of several recent high profile celebrities for abusing young girls, the media and the allegedly falsely accused were starting to question whether mounting multi claimant cases of abuse from many years ago was a sensible way to spend public money.

The recent conviction, and sentence today of Max Clifford justifies all the hard work put in by Operation Yewtree at the Met Police.

I just hope that the prison sentence is long enough to make the victims think they have got justice. Despite his protestations at trial his victims will be after acceptance that they are telling the truth. They want to be believed and have the satisfaction of feeling valued rather than guilty for what happened, which is so often the case.

The word is that the sentence may be as low as 2 years because the judge is bound by guidelines which were in force at the time the offences were committed ie the 70's and 80's rather than the present day.

The point is that most victims of abuse keep their experiences a secret because of fear and shame until much later in life, so a ban on prosecutions of events taking place years ago, would be catastrophic for victims. It would also have a very wide impact upon not only celebrity cases but also the vast majority of "normal" abuse cases of family members, professionals etc.

It has emerged in the press that earlier this year ago Clifford took out an unexplained £3.5m mortgage on his Surrey mansion with the suggestion being he wanted to put his money out of reach of victims looking for compensation. The civil courts have power to reverse transaction designed to avoid the payment of debts where it was done with that sole intention. It does seem to be the sort of thing someone expected to pay large amounts of compensation to do, but borders upon dishonesty. After all, aren't the victims entitled to be compensated for the suffering they have endured?

It is also said that a divorce is likely, and if so, the victims will be competing with his estranged wife for a slice of the pie. The question is, what has happened to the money raised by the mortgage? Some, no doubt was used to pay legal fees.

Let us hope that the victims obtain some sort of closure after today.

Hopefully I can give my views on BBC News 24 this afternoon.

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