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A working class hero is something to be
Having worked with a host of big names, from The Beatles and Frank Sinatra to O.J. Simpson, Simon Cowell, Jade Goody and, currently, Imogen Thomas, he is one of the best-known PR men in the world, famous for breaking some of the biggest stories in newspaper history – and also for successfully suppressing ones that were ready to dominate the headlines. But behind the high level jousting with the hardened bootboys of the British media (and the decent types too), Max Clifford is a remarkeably straightforward and down to earth working class character, who – as it turns out – loves the life he lives.
Olaf Tyaransen, 15 Jun 2011
Have you ever been wrong-footed?
Of course! Have I made mistakes? Of course I have. I mean, when you’re working 100 miles an hour, 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and you’re looking after so many people you rely on people being straight. You come to me and you say, “Max, I’m in the middle of this and I haven’t done it, and this is what I’ve done.” And I find out three months later that actually you were economical with the truth, so... of course.
Have you cut many people out?
No, not really. I think considering the kind of controversial situations I’ve been in – O.J. Simpson, loads of things – over the years, I’ve had plenty of death threats, but that’s standing up to be counted. When I took on News International, nobody else would. Rupert Murdoch? You can’t challenge Rupert Murdoch. Now, I’m not boasting about it, but I’m the only that did. Now they’re all jumping on it. So you stand up to be counted and you stand up for what you believe in. “You’re mad, Max, what do you want to take them on for? You make your fortune from them, just leave it!” No, I won’t have people tapping my phone and listening to my messages.
What scares you?
Scares me? [long pause] I suppose because I’ve spent so much time around people that are very ill, that are in chronic ill-health, I should say... You know, some people have a horrible time of it. Now I’d love to think I’m gonna go to 85 and drop dead because I love it and I’m having such a good time. I swim every day, play tennis four times a week. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I eat much too much because I love food, but I try to keep a relatively sensible lifestyle. But I look at some people sometimes and I think, “God forbid, I should end up like that.” Through no fault of their own or whartever or they’ve lost their marbles. But then having said that, I’ve got friends who are in their late seventies and they’re sharp as a needle… I suppose I’ve spent too much time with families of little ones that are dying and I think… well I’m 68 now and I’ve had the most amazing life, been and done and this and that, whatever, whatever, so if anything happens I’ve got to put hands up and say I’ve been extremely lucky. My daughter was crippled with juvenile chronic rhuematoid arthritis since the age of six. She’s had hip replacements, knee replacements, scoliosis, curvature of the spine, kidney transplants, whatever. Apart from a brush with prostate cancer a few years ago, I’ve been