OPINION: Hamiltons' PR nous challenges Clifford

For many, the name Max Clifford is synonymous with PR. Last week we

saw why. When the salacious story of Neil and Christine Hamiltons'

alleged sexual assault first broke, it came as little surprise that

Clifford was involved.

Many will be bemused as to why a woman who claims to have been raped should apparently be keen for publicity. The same people probably won't be aware that even victims of horrific crimes regularly sign up publicists to 'look after' the media for them.

This latest case could turn ugly for Clifford if he is not careful. One

thing the Hamiltons know well is how to handle publicity and the media -

they've had enough practice. In another world they could easily be on

Clifford's books.

Without Clifford, however, the Hamiltons have been seeking as much

publicity as they can get to send their profile soaring and boost their

bank balance.

Faced with the sort of allegations made against the Hamiltons, most

famous people questioned by the police would arrange for the matter to

be kept from the media. But the Hamiltons chose to tell the press most

of the intimate details of the charges against them and to sell the good

stuff to The Mail on Sunday.

In The Sunday Telegraph version, the Hamiltons' solicitor outlined

indecent acts alleged to have been committed by them. Once the Hamiltons realised Clifford was involved, they decided to reveal all in order to scupper any plans he may have had to sell the story to The News of the World.

Their surprising course of action had the added bonus of making a

corrupt politician and boring couple big box office again. The icing on

the cake was the fact that a documentary crew was coincidentally filming

the whole saga. All this should help double the fees for Mrs Hamilton's

after-dinner speeches and daytime TV appearances.

The Hamiltons' decision to 'come clean' must have taken Clifford by

surprise at first, but he soon 'made himself available' for the rounds

of TV and radio appearances. He had, of course, told the woman concerned to go straight to the police once she told him of the allegation and was therefore totally innocent of doing anything wrong. He told all this to an astonished John Humphries on Radio 4's Today programme, and added that he had at least 40 similar cases referred to him every week.

Clifford thinks he is onto a winner here because the publicity from this

case will bring him even more vulnerable and gullible punters who will

make him even richer. The sad thing is that the media always refer to

Clifford as a 'PR guru', which, of course, he is not.

I met him once and I found him to be a sociable enough chap who is

second to none in promoting himself. But a 'PR guru'? There are other

phrases that spring more readily to mind.

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