Max Clifford ‘too ill to brush his teeth’ in weeks before death at Cambridgeshire prison
Disgraced celebrity publicist Max Clifford could not brush his teeth as he was so breathless in the weeks before he died of heart failure, an inquest heard.
Clifford (74) collapsed at Littlehey Prison in Huntingdon where he was serving an eight-year sentence for historic sex offences.
He was taken by ambulance to Hinchingbrooke Hospital near Huntingdon where he died two days later on December 10, 2017.
Dr Ann Coxon, who was Clifford’s physician from 2003 onwards, told an inquest: “He couldn’t brush his teeth. He was breathless at rest.”
She told Tuesday’s hearing in Peterborough: “I saw him dying in front of my eyes as a witness in a prison visiting room.
“I’m a doctor. I know what dying is.”
Describing a visit to see Clifford in prison in September 2017, she said: “Just looking at how somebody had gone from playing tennis in May to walking with a shuffle, starting to become breathless from conversation, that’s a very rapid deterioration.”
Clifford complained of shortness of breath in July 2017 and was prescribed drugs for heart failure, but the underlying cause of cardiac AL amyloidosis - a rare, serious condition caused by a build-up of abnormal proteins in organs and tissues - was not established until the days before his death.
Dr Coxon said Clifford complained that prison nurses gave him “very conflicting advice” about diuretic medication that he had been prescribed.
The inquest was earlier told that Clifford did not always take his tablets in the “correct doses, if at all”, and that they made him feel dizzy.
“He said he got very conflicting advice from different nurses,” Dr Coxon said.
“One would say ‘take the medication’, the other would say ‘your blood pressure is low today, don’t take the medication’.
“They were frightened he would pass out.”
She said that the purpose of the medication was to lower the blood pressure, and that “you make the patient worse before they get better”.
She added: “This says to me they (the nurses) were not cardiac failure nurses.”
She said she told Clifford, through his lawyer, that he should take his medicine.
“Prisoners don’t get very much money for phone calls,” she said. “He was phoning the lawyer.”
She said that she was told information about his condition by his lawyers, describing the situation as “Chinese whispers”.
She said Clifford “didn’t want other people visiting him to know he was sick - he was a ‘Jock the lad’”.
She added that she did not put her concerns about whether Clifford was taking his medication in a letter to the prison as it “would have implied a criticism and I don’t want to criticise people who haven’t been trained in a speciality”.
Simon Milburn, assistant coroner for Cambridgeshire, described as “general in nature” a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons which notes chronic problems with the heating and boiler system at Littlehey Prison.
“There’s no detail in terms of precise timings, locations, temperatures, anything of that nature,” he said.
Clifford’s family had previously voiced concerns about prison conditions including cold showers.
A post-mortem examination recorded Clifford’s cause of death as congestive heart failure.
Further underlying factors were given as cardiac AL amyloidosis and plasma cell neoplasm, diseases in which the body makes too many plasma cells.
The inquest continues.