Max Clifford turns to BCL Burton Copeland on advice of Al Fayed

BCL Burton Copeland partner Ian Burton is representing Max Clifford over sexual offences claims after the firm’s senior partner came recommended by Mohammed Al Fayed.

Max Clifford
Max Clifford

The publicist was arrested and bailed yesterday. This morning Clifford vowed to clear his name.

He told The Lawyer: “Ian did quite a bit of work years ago for one of my clients Mohamed Al Fayed, who spoke very highly of him.

“We know each other slightly from back then and he was also recommended by my lawyer Charlotte Harris.”

Burton acted for former Harrods owner Al Fayed when he was seeking disclosure from intelligence agencies in relation to the crash that killed his son Dodi and Princess Diana. In another high-profile case, he is acting for Robert Tchenguiz alongside partner Richard Sallybanks in the businessman’s ongoing action against the SFO (4 December 2012).

Burton said he anticipates that he will instruct John Kelsey-Fry QC of Cloth Fair Chambers for Clifford. The BCL-Cloth Fair team successfully defended football manager Harry Redknapp against charges of tax evasion at the beginning of this year (8 February 2012). Kelsey-Fry acted for Redknapp, instructed by BCL partner Jane Glass, in the high-profile trial brought by HMRC.

Kelsey-Fry is also lead counsel for former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks after being instructed by Kingsley Napley partners Angus McBride and Stephen Parkinson to defend Brooks against criminal charges of conspiring to make illegal payments to officials for information (20 November 2012).

Firm founder Burton and criminal litigation partner Paul Morris are representing Clifford on the specific sex abuse allegations. They both accompanied him to a central London police station for questioning by Met detectives.

Clifford’s go-to lawyer, Mishcon de Reya media partner Charlotte Harris, made a statement yesterday on her client’s behalf confirming his arrest and his co-operation with police. Harris represented Clifford in 2010 when News International settled his phone-hacking case.

Following his arrest Clifford told reporters that the allegations against him date back to 1977 and are “totally untrue” and “very distressing” for him and his family.

Operation Yewtree spawned out of the allegations of abuse surrounding Jimmy Savile, but it is understood that the publicist is being questioned as part of an entirely separate strand.

Meanwhile, One Crown Office Row’s Lizanne Gumbel QC, Peter Skelton and Justin Levinson have been instructed to lead Jimmy Savile-related litigation.

The set’s Christina Lambert QC and Kate Beattie are instructed on the Dame Janet Smith Review into the BBC’s culture during Savile’s time (15 November 2012).

Now Skelton has been instructed by Russell Jones and Walker partner Liz Dux on behalf of victims who were allegedly abused (12 October 2012).

Levinson has been instructed by a range of other claimant firms and both will be led by silk Gumbel, who is overseeing the litigation.