Disgraced businessman and media owner Owen Oyston has hired public relations guru Max Clifford to improve his image ahead of his rape conviction appeal hearing.

Clifford is understood to be preparing a PR offensive that will portray the multimillionaire as a loveable rogue, rather than as a predatory old man. The publicist plans to plant stories in the tabloid press with women he has slept with in the past who will talk about him as an understanding lover.

Clifford met Oyston’s wife Vicki at the end of May in his London offices to discuss his appointment.

Asked about the Oyston strategy, Clifford says: “I will do everything I can to help the case. Oyston is many things, including very arrogant, but he is not a rapist.”