Max Clifford is a self-confessed liar. Apparently. I’ve just arrived home from a lecture at Uni from the man himself and he had a lot to tell us.
First of all, as far as I am aware, in the PR industry Max Clifford is a taboo subject. It’s “controversial” to agree with his ethics and methods. The only way I know this is because we had a lecture from the CIPR the other week about how important it is to be 100% honest and true in your work. And they informed us that Max Clifford was not the ideal example. Yet he was still invited to lecture at a CIPR conference. (Now who’s got double standards?)
Many people were asking Max about his ethics, the many lies he’s told and stories he’s spun. Many people were speaking to him in a tone which implied they did not approve of his work. Yes, he has worked with some people to cover up affairs, and he worked on the Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty case, on Jade’s side. Yes, he is still firm in his belief that OJ didn’t murder his wife and some people don’t agree with that.
One question which really made me think was when someone asked him about whether or not he knew about Jimmy Saville/Gary Glitter and whether or not he went to the police with the information he had received. Max replied that he always goes to the police if he has very good evidence to believe what he’s being told is true. However, someone also said that it is on record that he DIDN’T go to the police with knowledge about Gary Glitter. This caused a little bit of a debate.. well, more of an argument.
Max’s client asked him not to go public with the claims as they didn’t want to cause any more damage. So he didn’t. He didn’t go to the police either. And what was failed to mention on BOTH sides of this argument was that if he had gone to the police with these claims, it would be disregarded as HEARSAY. And if he had gone public with it, without any evidence to back it up, then if proved untrue it would be SLANDER, or LIBEL. Slander and libel are WRONG. You can be SUED. And going to the police with hearsay can potentially be viewed as wasting police time, which is also an offence.
People believe that if they tell their counsellors or therapists something, they are legally obligated to go to the police. This isn’t true, the only way anyone is able to press charges is if the victim themselves report the crime. Max has covered up affairs and lied about those types of things before, but they are not CRIMES. He could still go public if he wanted to. I know that people are going to have left that lecture thinking that Max Clifford is a liar and he doesn’t deserve to have this reputation as “the face of PR”. In fact, not even many of my coursemates have a lot of support for him. Not that he needs much support, he charges £20,000 a month for his services. But anyway. He’s not just the face of PR, no, he is a businessman, an entrepreneur and he has his own business to look after, one which I am sure he wouldn’t want to subject to the risk of being sued down to the ground if he was to publish a story about a very serious crime based on utter and complete hearsay. Jimmy Saville and Gary Glitter turned out NOT to be hearsay, obviously, but only an idiot would go public with that information without having clear and hard evidence to back it up.
He obviously doesn’t really care if he offends anyone with his opinions or methods, the fact is, they work and they are what has made him rich. I’m not saying I agree totally with everything Max Clifford said today, but the way that people were attacking his intentions in this particular part of the lecture really got me wound up.
So I’m saying that I think maybe some PR students (and even some practitioners) may need to revisit their notes on what they can and cannot say and with or without whose permission. They may even possibly want to consider the consequences of breaking these laws and just how honest we need to be to protect our own industry in the big bad world out there.