LONDON: Celebrity publicist Max Clifford yesterday became the first high profile figure to be charged in a wide-ranging investigation into a sex scandal that has grabbed front page headlines in Britain in recent months. Clifford, 70, was charged with 11 counts of indecent assault, prosecutors said, including on two underage girls, after being arrested in December as part of an investigation into sex crime allegations againt the late Jimmy Savile. Clifford, whose clients have included “The X Factor” reality TV creator Simon Cowell, is best known in Britain for selling “kiss and tell” stories about the rich and famous to scandal-hungry tabloid newspapers. “Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Clifford to be charged with 11 offences of indecent assault relating to seven complainants,” the Crown Prosecution Service’s Alison Saunders said in a statement. Clifford, whose alleged crimes were committed between 1966 and 1985, is expected to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 28. One of the assaults relates to a girl aged 14, and another to girl aged 15.
Man admits threat to US schoolchildren
LONDON: A British man pleaded guilty yesterday to making Facebook threats to kill 200 people at a school in the United States, which sparked a major security alert that saw thousands of pupils kept at home. Reece Elliot, a 24-year-old father-of-one from South Shields in northeastern England, posted the messages on a tribute site for a Tennessee teenager who was killed in a car accident. “My father has three guns. I’m planning on killing him first and putting him in a dumpster,” he wrote on the RIP Caitlin Talley social networking page, using a false name. “Then I’m taking the motor and I’m going in fast. I’m gonna kill hopefully at least 200 before I kill myself. So you want to tell the deputy, I’m on my way.” Elliot was arrested in February after handing himself in to police in Britain following investigations by the FBI and US Department of Homeland Security, Newcastle Crown Court heard.
Italy’s Letta may announce govt today
ROME: Italian prime minister-designate Enrico Letta could announce a new government today and go before parliament to spell out its programme early next week, political sources said yesterday. Letta, deputy leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, has been in discussions to iron out remaining differences with Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party following an initial round of talks. After two months of political stalemate following an inconclusive general election in February, Letta met both President Giorgio Napolitano and outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti yesterday but is unlikely to announce any government until Saturday, several people close to Letta said.
97 Gitmo inmates on hunger strike
WASHINGTON: More prisoners have joined a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention at the US-run Guantanamo military prison, with 97 out of 166 detainees refusing food, a spokesman said yesterday Among the strikers, 19 have been given feeding tubes, and five of those are hospitalisd but do not have life-threatening conditions, Lieutenant Colonel Samuel House said in a statement. The rapidly growing protest movement began on February 6, lawyers for the detainees said.
US country singer George Jones dead
WASHINGTON: George Jones, a classic country singer with a voice full of raw honky-tonk emotion and a life full of honky-tonk turmoil, died yesterday at the age of 81, his spokesman said. Jones, whose career spanned more than six decades and included hits such as He Stopped Loving Her Today and Window Up Above, died at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre. He had been hospitalized since April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure, spokesman Kirt Webster said.