Vanessa Feltz has hit back at the “vile” response she has received following her allegations against convicted sex offender Rolf Harris.
The 52-year-old TV presenter said she had been targeted by “misogyny and hatred” since she told the Sunday Express that Harris attacked her while they were filming a live episode of The Big Breakfast in May 1996.
Feltz has described how Harris allegedly put his hand inside her knickers while she interviewed him during the “On The Bed” section of the show - and that Harris’ wife Alwen had been in the room at the time.
Speaking to BBC London 94.9, she said: “The kind of reaction I have had, I found so upsetting. I was upset by the outpouring of misogyny and hatred and you know 'who would want to assault Vanessa Feltz'.”
Feltz said she remained silent at the time because “I thought it only happened to me”.
“I didn’t even think of going to the police,” she said.
"I didn't want to break up a marriage, I didn't want to have a terrible effect on his career, and also I thought it wasn't that serious: after all I'd managed to stop it in the nick of time."
Video: Rolf Harris sentenced to five years and nine months in prison
Reflecting on that decision, Feltz said: "I regret it because I didn't know that it was happening to lots of other people. If I had known, I suppose I would have reacted differently."
She explained that she had come forward after the police had contacted her to testify against Harris. Scotland Yard reportedly obtained footage from The Big Breakfast to support her claims, but the evidence was not used in the disgraced entertainer’s trial because adequate notice was not given to defence lawyers.
Feltz said she had been unable to speak out until after the conclusion of the trial, but had not been paid to tell her story and was “absolutely shocked” by the reaction on Twitter, which was “full of bile and hatred”.
“You think if people react like that, you can see why people don't come forward. I'm 52 and I can handle myself, but imagine if I was a seven-year-old child, or 12 or 17,” Feltz added.
“I'm not saying just if it's someone famous, but imagine if it was your dad, uncle or teacher.”
Singer Linda Nolan has also come forward publicly to make allegations against Harris.
She told the Mirror Harris groped her breasts in a corridor when she was just 15 and on tour with her sisters.
The star, 55, said she was in a dressing gown and was on her way to get ready for a performance when Harris pounced on her backstage at the concert in South Africa in 1975.Reuse content