LONDON (AP) — For years, the affable, white-haired Max Clifford has been the "go to" guy for British celebrities seeking help with public relations fiascos. Now it is Clifford who may need help: He was arrested Thursday as part of a wide-ranging U.K. inquiry into sex abuse.
Clifford called the allegations "damaging and totally untrue" as he left a London police station to a flurry of photographer flashbulbs.
News of the arrest shocked Britain's entertainment and media communities; Clifford has long been seen as a sage adviser with an uncanny ability to shape the news in his client's favor.
He is known for his fabled ability to get certain stories into the papers — and keep others out.
It is too early to judge the impact of Thursday's arrest on Clifford's formidable reputation. Few details were available, and it is not clear if the 69-year-old will be charged with any offenses.
Police did not name Clifford, as is customary, but his lawyer, Charlotte Harris, confirmed his arrest, which had been widely reported in the British media. She said he was cooperating with detectives.
"Max Clifford is being interviewed by police," she said in a statement. "Mr. Clifford will assist the police as best he can with their inquiries. When we are in a position to provide further information, we will."
Police said that a man in his 60s was arrested Thursday morning in Surrey, south of London, on suspicion of sexual offenses and is being questioned at a central London police station.
The police statement said the arrest was part of Operation Yewtree, a broad investigation into child sex abuse spurred by the case of Jimmy Savile, a prominent BBC television host who has, since his death last year, been linked to serial sex abuse of underage girls. Police have said there may be several hundred victims.
The police statement does not link Thursday's arrest to child sex abuse. It was not clear what Clifford was being questioned about, and other people arrested as part of Operation Yewtree have not been charged with criminal offenses.
Clifford said the allegations date back to 1977, but he declined to go into further detail after giving a brief statement outside the police station where he had been questioned and released on bail.