Clifford: 'My job is protection'

Max Clifford has said his PR business has become less focused on promotion in recent years, and more about protecting high profile clients such as Simon Cowell from the excesses of the British media.

At an event hosted by the Association of Business Schools last week, the PR guru told the audience: 'My business is promotion and protection. When I started out it was mainly promotion. Increasingly, it's protection.'

On pop mogul Cowell, he said: 'In the past five years, 95 per cent is protecting him from the excesses of journalists. If you do an interview, most of the journalists will write something that's nothing to do with the interview because they have their own agenda.'

Clifford also spoke about representing Robert Murat, the Algarve-based property consultant who was falsely suspected of involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2007: 'The British media destroyed him ... He was almost suicidal, he didn't have any money but I took him on.'

Clifford helped Murat to win an estimated £600,000 in libel settlements, mostly involving tabloid newspapers. 'When it goes right it's immensely satisfying, as it was with Robert Murat,' he said.

The well known publicist is currently handling PR for Shrien Dewani, the man accused of ordering the murder of his wife during their honeymoon in South Africa. Clifford said he had recently received death threats over his involvement in the case, but he strongly believed Dewani was innocent. 'I'm 100 per cent convinced it's untrue, without any foundation at all.'

Clifford also spoke out about Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society initiative, appearing to agree with criticism that it is merely a cover for the Government's cuts. The PR guru said: 'I think this whole Big Society is a PR exercise because a lot of people are going to be struggling.'

He was also quizzed over the make-up of his agency, Max Clifford Associates.

He said: 'There have been a few lads over the years. They tend to be attractive ladies for some reason. I don't know why.'

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