What happens next to Max Clifford?
Max Clifford was today sentenced to 8 years imprisonment having been found guilty after trial of 8 offences of Indecent Assault committed against 4 women who were at the time aged between 15 and 18. The crimes spanned from 1977 to 1985.
He will begin that sentence immediately and be taken this evening to a local London Prison, which is likely to be HMP Wandsworth in South London. Whilst in prison he will in due course go through a categorisation process to establish which is the most suitable prison for him to be held in. The Categories range from A, for prisoners with a high risk to the public – through to D, for those who pose a low risk and can be housed in an open prison. He will also be subject to assessment and provided with a sentence plan.
Can he appeal?
In terms of an appeal Max Clifford’s legal team, he has a few solicitors working for him, will be advising him if there are grounds to appeal the conviction and 8 year sentence. There is not an automatic right to appeal. Simply because a person does not agree with the decision of the Jury is not a valid ground to appeal. Grounds have to be established that the conviction was unsafe if permission to appeal is to be granted. In order to be granted an appeal against sentence it must be shown that it was wrong, usually on the basis that it was manifestly excessive, wrong in law, or wrong in principle to pass. The appeal process isn’t quick; simply lodging grounds to appeal doesn’t mean he would be released. The appeal process takes time. Anyone who needs advice regarding the appeal process should seek legal advice preferably from a solicitor that is an expert in the field, as it can be complex.
If the Prosecution are of the view the sentence was unduly lenient and doesn’t reflect the seriousness of the offence they can ask the Attorney General to review it – as occurred in the case of Stuart Hall. The victims can also do the same. If the Attorney General agrees the sentence was unduly lenient the sentence can be referred to the Court of Appeal for review. When Stuart Hall’s case was referred in this way it was increased from 15-months imprisonment to 30 months imprisonment. Although the reaction so far from Lawyers is that the sentence isn’t one that could be considered lenient.
When will he be released?
Max Clifford will be eligible for release at the halfway point of the sentence if recommended by the Parole Board, although his release isn’t automatic until he’s served two thirds of the sentence. Generally for those serving sentences of imprisonment for offences committed today they are automatically released at the half waypoint of the sentence, but again because these offences were historic, this also affects the prison release scheme.
Having been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment he will now be subject to notification, which is commonly known as being on the sex offenders register. This means that when released, he will have to provide the police with personal details about his whereabouts.
He will also in all likelihood be placed on a list barring him from working in the future with vulnerable adults and children. This isn’t a decision for the sentencing Judge. This is done by a government agency called the Disclosing and Barring Service (DBS). The powers and procedure of the DBS are relatively complex but good initial guidance can be found on the Gov.uk website. Solicitors can also help in appealing or charting your way through the consequence of such convictions.
By: Natalie Smith and Hilary Doherty experienced solicitors.