DIARY: Pop Idol's Mr Nasty recruits Clifford for help with kiss'n'tell stories

Max Clifford's promiscuous approach to client selection has led him

to accept cash from sources as unpopular as Mohammed al Fayed. But the

PR and publicity guru's client list became yet more colourful last week

as news emerged that he had started handling PR for Pop Idol bully Simon


Cowell, who is paying Clifford £100,000 for just six months work,

has earned himself a steady role in the pantomime of villainy that is

the early Saturday evening ITV1 schedule.

Along with Capital Radio's Dr Fox, pop kingmaker Pete Waterman and

Popstars judge Nicki Chapman, Cowell sits on the panel that puts young

wannabe pop stars through hell each week.

Like Max, Cowell pulls no punches in offering a critique of those he

feels do not make the grade. His generous comments have included the

delightful 'I am astonished you have got this far in the competition

since you so obviously lack star quality'.

Clifford's first job after being contacted by Cowell was to quash untrue

allegations in the tabloids about Cowell's links with a certain fallen

pop promoter and sex offender.

His work has since taken Cowell onto The Frank Skinner Show and into the

dangerous terrain of ex-girlfriend tabloid splashes. 'There are lots of

stories. We figure since he has become the true star of Pop Idol, we

need to put everything in place. The stories that will come out are

kiss'n'tells that would've come out anyway. But they're very

complimentary about him,' Clifford says.

With Cowell's past mistakes keeping Clifford busy, it is presumably a

bad time to have offbeat programme-maker Louis Theroux lurking in the


Theroux's even-handedness is admirable - his previous target was

longstanding Clifford foe and disgraced former minister Neil Hamilton.

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