Category Archives: Celebrity
One of the country’s most prominent black woman judges, from south-west London, has vowed to fight allegations that she perverted the course of justice in connection with the Chris Huhne trial.
Constance Briscoe, 56, is accused of two counts of the offence, relating to statements that were made to Essex Police.
In a statement issued through her solicitors, she said: “I am deeply distressed at the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to charge me. I have not committed the offences alleged against me and I will fight the allegations in court.
“There is a great deal more I would like to say now but I have been advised that I should not do so at this stage. I ask only that no judgment is reached against me on the basis of this prosecution decision and before the full facts are heard.”
The first count alleges that, between May 2011 and last October, she provided police with two statements that were inaccurate.
The second alleges that on October 6 she produced a copy of her witness statement that had been altered and maintained that it was the correct version.
Barrister and part-time judge Briscoe is facing allegations that she falsely claimed to police that she had no dealings with the press over the Huhne speeding points case.
Both Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce received eight-month sentences after it emerged that she had taken points for her former husband a decade ago – the former energy secretary pleaded guilty on the first day of a planned joint trial in February, and economist Pryce was later convicted by a jury.
During legal proceedings it was alleged that Briscoe, from the same street in Clapham where the former power couple lived, had lied to police over her dealings with the press about the points-swapping, which first emerged through newspaper stories in 2011.
The barrister, who hit the headlines in 2008 when her mother sued her over claims made in her “misery memoir” Ugly, was arrested on October 2012 and suspended by the Office of Judicial Complaints.
A spokeswoman for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: “The Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor have suspended Constance Briscoe from the judiciary pending the outcome of the police investigation into the allegations against her.”
She is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 24.
CPS senior lawyer Deborah Walsh said: “The first allegation is that, between May 16 2011 and October 6 2012, Constance Briscoe provided Essex Police with two statements which were inaccurate.
“The second allegation, dated October 6 2012, is that Constance Briscoe produced a copy of a witness statement that had been altered and that she maintained was the correct version.
“This decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
“We have determined that there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that these charges are in the public interest.”
PR guru Max Clifford repeated vows to clear his name today after he was charged with 11 historic counts of indecent assault against teenage girls.
The 70-year-old, famed for representing celebrities including Simon Cowell and Jade Goody, said he had received “tremendous support” from his clients as he labelled the allegations against him as “a load of nonsense”.
Clifford has been charged with offences linked to girls aged from 14 to 19 between 1966 and 1985 and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 28, Scotland Yard said.
Speaking outside his Surrey home today, Mr Clifford told reporters he would be “absolutely fine” once the truth emerged.
“I just find it hard to kind of accept, I suppose, that women 30, 40 years later, can make complaints like this and remain anonymous,” he told Sky News.
“Obviously it’s been horrible for my wife Jo, my daughter Louise, people close to me.”
He added: “I think people know me for the person I am. They know there’s no way I have ever assaulted anyone in my life.”
Mr Clifford said his friends, family and clients had offered “tremendous support”, adding that he would continue to work as normal.
He said: “All of my clients have remained loyal. I’m working with all of my clients on a regular daily basis.
“I’m used to dealing with dramas, mostly other peoples.
“I faced up to what was potentially live threatening cancer five or six years ago and it was six months before I knew I was going to be OK.
“Most of my life I’ve lived under very bright blue skies…this is something I’ve got to face up with and I’ve got to deal with.
“If nothing but the truth comes out, I’m going to be absolutely fine.”
Mr Clifford was arrested in December as part of Operation Yewtree, the national police inquiry sparked by allegations of abuse against Jimmy Savile.
Yesterday he told the Press Association the allegations were “completely false” and he had been living a “24/7 nightmare” since his arrest.
Clifford has made a career of taking on some of the most talked-about celebrity stories in the last few decades.
The public relations veteran notably represented OJ Simpson and was behind the rumours that sparked the tabloid headline “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster”.
Clifford said: “Since last December I have been living a 24/7 nightmare. A black cloud has been placed over me, obliterating the bright blue skies that I have been fortunate to live my life under for the vast majority of the past 70 years.”
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) found that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges in relation to three other allegations made against Clifford.
Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered as part of Operation Yewtree in relation to Max Clifford, who was initially arrested on December 6 2012 over allegations of sexual offences.
“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 charges that he faces are:
:: One offence of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 14, in 1966;
:: One offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 18, in 1974/75;
:: Three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1977/78;
:: One offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 19, in 1978;
:: Two offences of indecent assault relating to a girl, aged 16 or 17, in 1981/82;
:: One offence of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 19, in 1980/81;
:: Two offences of indecent assault relating to a woman, aged 18, in 1984/85.
Max Clifford’s statement in full:
“The allegations in respect of which I have been charged are completely false and I have made this clear to the police during many, many hours of interviews.
“Nevertheless a decision has been taken to charge me with 11 offences involving seven women, the most recent of which is 28 years ago and the oldest 47 years ago.
“I have never indecently assaulted anyone in my life and this will become clear during the course of the proceedings.
“I am naturally disappointed about today’s decision, particularly because of the distress it has caused my wife, Jo, my daughter, Louise, and all those close to me.
“However, at least I will now be in a position to fully consider all the evidence against me and to answer the evidence in public and ultimately clear my name in a court of law.
“Since last December I have been living a 24/7 nightmare. A black cloud has been placed over me, obliterating the bright blue skies that I have been fortunate to live my life under for the vast majority of the past 70 years.
“Fortunately I have and continue to receive wonderful support and understanding from those who knew me, those who know me, as well as people I meet everywhere I go.
“This has made this nightmare so much easier to cope with and I am extremely grateful for this as you can imagine.”
Later outside his home in Surrey, an emotional Clifford told reporters: “The allegations in respect of which I have been charged are completely false, very upsetting, very distressing, but completely false.
“I have made it clear to the police during probably around 25 hours of interviews since last December when I was initially arrested, that there’s absolutely no truth and substance in any of these allegations.”
He added: “I’m so grateful to the many people that I meet everywhere I go who have been so supportive to me and since this charge being announced in the last couple of hours I’ve literally had hundreds of calls to my office, to friends, to myself, to my wife, to family members, and everyone of them has been nothing but supportive.
“Twenty-eight years ago was this most recent (allegation), and 47 years ago was the oldest.
“That’s what I’m up against and that’s what I’ve now got to – with my legal team – face up to and sort out to clear my name.”
Comedian Freddie Starr has been rearrested over further allegations of sexual offences.
The entertainer answered bail today and was arrested for a second time over additional claims.
Scotland Yard said that a man in his sixties had been “further arrested on suspicion of sexual offences in connection with further allegations made to Operation Yewtree”.
The investigation is the national inquiry sparked after allegations of abuse were made against Jimmy Savile.
It has been split into three strands – allegations against Savile, those against Savile and others, and those against others.
Starr was originally arrested under the “Savile and others” strand, but the re-arrest was not linked to Savile.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
The American woman accused of murdering British student Meredith Kercher in Italy said she acted “like a lost, pathetic child” during the investigation and wants to “set the record straight”, it was reported.
Amanda Knox also claimed was sexually harassed by prisonguards and considered suicide, according to the New York Times.
Writing in her memoir Waiting to Be Heard, she wrote: “Until now I have personally never contributed to any public discussion of the case or of what happened to me.
“Now that I am free, I’ve finally found myself in a position to respond to everyone’s questions.
“This memoir is about setting the record straight.”
According to the memoir, the police interrogated her for hours and would slap her on the back of her head.
Miss Knox made the claims in spite of the fact that the Italian police are taking legal action against her parents for making similar allegations.
She also claimed to have been reading a Harry Potter book, smoking marijuana and watching a film at her boyfriend’s flat on the night of the murder, saying that “around our house, marijuana was as common as pasta”.
Last month Italy’s highest criminal court overturned her acquittal for the murder of Miss Kercher, from Coulsdon, Surrey, in November 2007.
The American returned home to Seattle after she was dramatically cleared following four years in jail in 2011 but now faces the prospect of returning to the country for a new trial.
In the memoir she went on: “First I showed not enough emotion; then I showed too much”.
Miss Knox added: “The words in my journal were taken literally, and they damned me”, she wrote.
“It was a situation I would find myself in again and again.”
Evangelical Christian and Hollywood star Stephen Baldwin has admitted in court that he failed to pay New York state income tax for three years.
The actor agreed to pay 400,000 dollars (£263,000) in back taxes, interest and penalties. The judge said 100,000 dollars (£65,000) has already been paid.
Baldwin pleaded guilty to a charge of repeated failure to file income taxes.
The judge said that if Baldwin pays back the rest of the money within a year, the charge will be taken off his record. If not, he will be sentenced to five years probation.
Baldwin – the youngest of the four acting Baldwin brothers – went to court between appearances on All-Star Celebrity Apprentice.
He said he received bad advice from lawyers and accountants.
He starred in acclaimed crime thriller The Usual Suspects and appeared in the 2010 series of Celebrity Big brother in the UK.
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners, said Baldwin was a hypocrite.
“This guy has used his faith and his fame to call many times for harsher sentences for offenders while behind the scenes behaving criminally himself – what an evangelical Christian hypocrite.”
Coronation Street star Bill Roache today said he was “very sorry” over his controversial comments on the victims of paedophiles which seemed to suggest they were being punished for past sins.
Roache, 80, who has played Ken Barlow in the ITV soap for more than 50 years, had told New Zealand’s One News that the public should not be judgmental but be “totally forgiving” of people who have committed child sex crimes.
In a statement, the actor today said: “I would like to say that I am very sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments.
“I would never say that victims of sexual offences are in any way responsible for the abuse they have suffered and I offer my deepest apologies if anything I have said has been misunderstood in this way.
“I had no intention of causing any kind of distress as a result of my interview and I offer my utmost sympathies to anyone affected by sexual offences and paedophilia.”
His comments drew stinging criticism from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac), which called them an insult to abuse victims.
Roache caused outrage with the interview in which the furore around the Jimmy Savile sex abuse revelations were discussed.
Former DJ Savile has now been exposed as one of the country’s most prolific paedophiles who may have abused hundreds of children.
Roache said in the interview: “If you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won’t happen to you.”
Interviewer Garth Bray commented: “To some people that sounds perhaps like you’re saying victims bring things on themselves – is that what you’re saying?”
Roache replied: “No, not quite, but and yet I am, because everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever.”
Roache went on to call for anonymity for all those accused of child sex offences because of the stigma they faced even if innocent.
He said: “Paedophilia is absolutely horrendous. Paedophiles should be sought out, rooted out and dealt with.
“But there’s a fringe of people who, particularly pop singers, they have these groupies, these girls, who come, they’re sexually active, sexually mature, they don’t ask for their birth certificate, they don’t know what age they may be.
“But they’re certainly not grooming them and exploiting them, but they can be caught in this trap.
“These people are instantly stigmatised, some will be innocent, some will not, but until such time as it’s proven there should be anonymity for both.”
He added: “If someone has done something wrong, the law will take its course.
“But even so, all of them, whether they are proven guilty or not, we should not be judgmental about anybody, ever.
“We shouldn’t go around condemning, unforgiving. We should all be totally forgiving about everything.”
Dr Jon Bird, from Napac, condemned Roache’s “hippy-dippy” spiritualist beliefs, saying child sex abuse left people with horrific physical and mental scars.
“Abuse is a crime. The rape of a child is an appalling crime and the long-term effects we hear about include suicide,” he said.
“There is a whole range of terrible consequences that are life-long.
“This is a real insult, it is horrible. I think a lot of people will be deeply offended by what he said.”
A lawyer for the troubled son of actor Michael Douglas will try to convince a New York appeal court today that he should not have to spend a decade in prison for drug crimes.
The Douglas name – first with patriarch Kirk and later with son Michael – has always meant gold for Hollywood. But drama for the third generation of the Douglas family has occurred mostly off-screen, where Cameron Douglas has battled drug addiction and legal troubles.
In papers submitted for appeal court arguments today, prosecutors and a lawyer for Cameron Douglas have retold in greater detail than before how a man who seemed to have so many advantages in life could land in prison for a decade on a drug conviction.
The dispute is over Manhattan Judge Richard Berman’s decision to double Douglas’ five-year prison term after he committed several new drug infractions, including convincing a lawyer-turned-love interest to sneak drugs into prison for him in her bra on three or four occasions.
Judge Berman said he had not “ever encountered a defendant who has so recklessly and wantonly and flagrantly and criminally acted in as destructive and (as) manipulative a fashion as Cameron Douglas has”.
In his brief, Douglas’ lawyer Paul Shechtman called the additional sentence “shockingly long”, saying it “may be the harshest sentence ever imposed on a federal prisoner for a drug possession offence”.
Douglas, 34, was originally accused of distributing and conspiring to distribute more than 4.5kgs of methamphetamine and 20kgs of cocaine from August 2006 until his July 28, 2009 arrest at a Manhattan hotel.
At the time, he was so visibly high on heroin that he was taken first to a hospital before he was brought to court, and it was later learned he had been shooting the drug five to six times a day for five years, Mr Shechtman noted.
He was released from custody on condition that he remain under “house arrest” with a private security guard at his mother’s apartment, Mr Shechtman said. Within days, he persuaded his girlfriend, Kelly Sott, to smuggle heroin to him, hidden in an electric toothbrush. Once discovered, his bail was revoked and he was incarcerated.
Sott pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour in a plea deal and was sentenced to the seven months she had already served.
Still, Douglas gained leniency from what otherwise could have been a mandatory 10-yearprison sentence by co-operating with the government, contacting his suppliers by telephone and text messages as law enforcement agents watched. As a result, two drug suppliers were arrested and convicted. Douglas gave evidence at the trial of one supplier.
Douglas was sentenced to five years in prison for a January 27, 2010, guilty plea to narcotics distribution charges even before his co-operation was completed.
At sentencing, judge Berman noted that the Douglas family had staged interventions for Cameron Douglas that he had refused and that two decades of drug addiction treatment had been unsuccessful. He said it appeared incarceration had produced the longest period of sobriety for Douglas since he was 13.
However, it was learned afterwards that even before the April 20, 2010, sentencing, Douglas had persuaded one of his lawyers – a 33-year-old associate at a law firm with whom lawyers said he also had a romantic relationship – to smuggle Xanax pills to him inprison. Mr Shechtman said she “apparently became enamoured of Cameron during frequent visits”.
He admitted that he had shared the 30 Xanax pills with other inmates and that he had also smoked cigarettes, gambled, snorted substances and committed other offences while in prison.
Shortly after giving evidence at the October 3, 2011, trial of a drug supplier, prison staff caught Douglas with the opioid dependence medication Suboxone and a white powdery substance believed to be heroin. The prison punished him with disciplinary segregation for 11 months and cancelled nearly three months of his good conduct time.
On October 20 last year Douglas again pleaded guilty to drug possession, agreeing in a plea deal that the sentencing range should be an additional 12 to 18 months in prison.
Prosecutors say that within a week of the plea, the government learned from a co-operating defendant in another case that Douglas had misled the government about how he obtained heroin while in prison.
Douglas had claimed he obtained the heroin by chance, the government said, but prosecutors say the co-operator revealed he had brought the drugs directly to Douglas’ cell.
In court papers, Mr Shechtman blamed Douglas’ long history of substance abuse and growing up with little parental support.
“While still a young teenager, he drank heavily and began selling drugs after his father sharply limited snorting cocaine,” he said. “He used illegal drugs to self-medicate – to ward off depression and panic attacks.”
His drug habit led him to be sacked from a film in which he had a minor role in 2006, the lawyer said.
“Exasperated, his father gave him an ultimatum: enter a drug rehabilitation programme or have his access to family money sharply limited. Cameron declined to enter treatment; his father carried out his threat; and Cameron turned to drug dealing to support his habit,” Mr Shechtman wrote.
Mr Shechtman is arguing that the judge has gone too far with Douglas, punishing an addict for something beyond his control.
Former Shameless and EastEnders actor Jody Latham burst into tears as he was spared a jail sentence for growing cannabis behind the partitioned wall of a garage in Lancashire.
Latham, 29, who recently dated the X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos, started crying in the dock as he was told by a judge that his “sophisticated” production of the drug could only warrant a prison term.
His tears of anguish turned to relief though when he learned the 12-month sentence would be suspended for two years.
He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Burnley Crown Court to production of cannabis between March and May last year.
Police seized 24 plants at a former girlfriend’s home in Stacksteads as tests later showed 16 of the plants had matured and were capable of being sold for up to £9,000.
Habitual cannabis user Latham told the court he grew the plants because he was worried that buying from dealers would attract attention with his celebrity status.
Judge Beverley Lunt told him the simple solution was not to buy cannabis in the first place. She warned him he would be brought before her if he committed another offence and he would then lose his liberty.
“I hope this will you deter you from offending and make you give up this drug,” she said.
Latham, who found fame when he played Philip “Lip” Gallagher in Channel 4′s Shameless and later as pimp Rob Grayson in the BBC1 soap EastEnders, has a number of previous convictions, including two cautions for offences involving cannabis.
In 2006 he was cautioned for possession and in 2007 he was similarly cautioned for cannabis production on the Isle of Man. He was convicted of assault in 2003 and for using threatening words or behaviour in 2007 and 2010.
Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall was tonight charged with three offences of indecent assault against young girls.
The 82-year-old is accused of alleged offences committed between 1974 and 1984 involving three girls aged between nine and 16, Lancashire Police said.
He was initially arrested on suspicion of rape and a further allegation of indecent assault, for which he has been released without charge.
The BBC tonight said the former It’s A Knockout star would not be working at the corporation while police continue their investigation into the allegations.
A BBC spokesman said: “In light of the very serious nature of these charges, Stuart Hall will not be working at the BBC while the police continue with their inquiries.”
The broadcaster’s arrest comes as the BBC continues to deal with the fall-out of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Hall was detained at his home in Prestbury Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, this morning before being taken to a police station for questioning.
John Dilworth, Head of CPS North West Complex Casework Unit, said: “Following investigations by Lancashire Police into allegations of sexual assault by Stuart Hall I have reviewed all the evidence that they have gathered and have authorised Lancashire police to charge him with three counts of indecent assault.
“The charges are that between 1 September 1974 and 31 December 1974 he indecently assaulted a woman who was then aged 16 or 17 years, that between 1 January 1983 and 31 December 1983 he indecently assaulted a girl then aged eight or nine years, and that between 1 July 1984 and 27 September 1984 he indecently assaulted a girl then aged 13 years.
Hall has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century and was this year awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.
His eccentric and erudite football match summaries have made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live
Officers arrived at his home at about 8am this morning and stayed until about 2pm, before a uniformed officer left carrying two bin bags containing items.
At 8.34pm a woman, described by police as a “guest”, left the family home in a black Range Rover.
Two police officers remained stationed outside on the drive.
One officer told a scrum of photographers, TV crews and reporters there would be no one else leaving or arriving at the property tonight.
Hall has been bailed to appear before magistrates in Preston on January 7 2013.
Disgraced former Irish rugby international David Tweed was behind bars tonight after a jury found him guilty of child sex abuse.
The 53-year-old from Clonavon Terrace in Ballymena, Co Antrim, was convicted of 13 counts of indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and inciting gross indecency with a child.
The railway supervisor, who is also a Ballymena councillor, stood trial at Antrim Crown Court accused of sexually abusing two young girls over an eight-year period from 1988.
Judge Alistair Devlin said: “The offences with which you are charged are not only vile and wicked, they particularly disturbing and distasteful crimes.”
Remanding Tweed in custody, Judge Devlin said the judiciary treat such crimes seriously.
“All the courts take a very serious view,” he added.
The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for more than eight hours after a trial which lasted three weeks.
They returned guilty verdicts on 10 charges including indecent assault and gross indecency and Tweed was taken into custody. The jury later returned with three further guilty verdicts.
Tweed who was wearing a dark suit and striped shirt returned to the dock after lunch without his blue tie. He appeared nervous, fixed his open collar and shook his head throughout the proceedings.
He stood in the dock with his hands clasped tightly and drew a deep intake of breath as the final three guilty verdicts were read out before being led away by prison staff.
Two women who had supported Tweed throughout the hearing wiped away tears.
Yesterday Tweed was cleared of one count of indecent assault.
The father-of-four, who also has two stepchildren, had consistently denied anything improper had happened with the girls who are now adults.
This was the second time Tweed faced child sex abuse allegations.
In 2009 a jury unanimously acquitted him of 10 counts of sex abuse against two different young girls.
None of the victims, who had given evidence during the trial, were in the courtroom to hear the outcome. However their friends and family members sat with their arms linked and wept.
At one point a woman ran into the corridor in tears.
Discharging the jury, Judge Devlin thanked them for their attention throughout the hearing.
“It has not been an easy trial,” he said. “It was lengthy, complex and disturbing.”
Tweed was capped four times for Ireland. He made his debut against France in the 1995 Five Nations competition and played in the Rugby World Cup in South Africa.
He was also a prominent Ulster Rugby star with more than 30 appearances for the team during the 1980s and 1990s.
His defence barrister Laurence McCrudden QC had claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy.
But in her closing speech Laura Ievers QC for the prosecution argued that Tweed was able to easily hide the abuse because of his position in society.
She said: “He was a big, powerful man, charisma, sporting prowess – the perfect veil to hide behind and the ultimate in living a lie.”
Ms Ievers said the defence had been clutching at straws trying to explain the inexplicable.
She added: “He is clearly contradicting himself in effect to explain how and why these allegations occurred.”
In one incident it was claimed that Tweed had performed oral sex on one of the girls when she was of primary school age.
It was also claimed Tweed had inappropriately touched both girls.
There was no application for bail and sentencing is due to take place in the new year.
Outside the court the victims and their family declined to comment.