As a publicist, Mr. Clifford represented a roster of world-famous clients, including Muhammad Ali and O.J. Simpson. But he made his name from scandal, shepherding exposés of extramarital affairs that brought down at least one British government minister and filled the pages of tabloid newspapers in Britain and elsewhere for decades.
Newsletter Sign Up
Thank you for subscribing.
An error has occurred. Please try again later.
You are already subscribed to this email.
At least one of those newspapers, the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World, hacked into his cellphone voice mail in search of further secrets. The newspaper was later shuttered over its use of such hacking.
“For every story I break, there’s 10 I stop,” Mr. Clifford told The New York Times in a 2006 interview, explaining that his rule for celebrities seeking his help to avoid a scandal was that they had to tell him everything.
“I say, ‘Look, if I don’t know more about you than your wife, your husband, your mistress, your lover, I can’t do what you want me to, so there’s no point in your paying me fortunes and wasting your money and my time.’ ”
Mr. Clifford grew up in Surrey, in southern England, the son of an electrician and a former maid, and he started his own company at the age of 27. Before that, he said, he worked as a newspaper reporter and then at the record label EMI, where he helped to promote the Beatles, though the extent of his role with the band has been disputed.
“I’ve created false images for people all my life,” he told The Times in 2006. “I’m quite happy to make up stories about someone to create an image.”