'An opportunistic predator': Stuart Hall faces prison as he admits 14 sex assaults against 13 girls as young as nine

BBC veteran's lawyer says he knows his 'disgrace is complete'

The former It’s a Knockout presenter Stuart Hall is facing prison after be admitted a catalogue of sex abuse allegations dating back nearly 50 years.

The veteran broadcaster was described by prosecutors as an “opportunistic predator” whose 13 victims included a nine-year-old girl who he sexually assaulted in her bedroom whilst attending a dinner party at her parents’ house.

Another victim, then aged 17, described how she was pushed up against a wall and attacked after auditioning as a cheerleader during filming of the long-running TV competition.

The investigation by Lancashire Police began after a woman contacted Independent columnist Yasmin Alabhai-Brown in the wake of the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal. The woman described how she was invited to the BBC studios in Manchester after meeting Hall at a school prize giving and later abused.

Ten victims subsequently came forward following the initial publicity surrounding the case. Today Hall, aged 83, admitted 14 counts of sexual assault which ranged from kissing to the digital penetration of his 13 predominantly teenage victims.

A further charge of rape and three other counts of sexual assault were allowed to lay on file with the agreement of the complainants. The BBC, where Hall was still working as a freelance match summariser on Radio 5 Live until his arrest last year, described his crimes as “disgraceful” and said he would no longer appear on air for the corporation.

Hall’s barrister Crispin Aylett QC told a brief hearing at Preston Crown Court that his client was “only too aware that his disgrace is complete.” Hall will be sentenced in June after being released on bail and faces a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years. He was told he must not have unsupervised access to children and will be required to sign the Sex Offenders Register.

Prosecutors praised the women – none of whom knew each other - for coming forward.

Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor in the North West, said victims of abuse should not be denied justice by the passage of time. He said all had provided “strikingly similar” accounts of their ordeal.

“Whether in private or public, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences and then bide his time until the victim was isolated. He can only be described as an opportunistic predator,” said Mr Afzal.

Detective chief inspector Neil Esseen, of Lancashire Police’s major investigation team, said the guilty pleas had allowed the victims to be spared the ordeal of giving evidence at trial.

“The fact that these convictions have come a long time after they were committed shows that we will always take any allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and will investigate them thoroughly no matter how long ago they happened,” he said.

A statement issued through his solicitors said: “Mr Hall deeply and sincerely regrets his actions. He wishes to issue an unreserved apology to the individuals concerned. He now accepts his behaviour and actions were completely wrong and he is very remorseful.”

His barrister said Hall was of otherwise “exemplary character” and that his client had ”desisted“ in each instance of abuse when met with the ”merest suggestion of discouragement“.

But child protection campaigners welcomed the outcome of the hearing.

Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's sexual abuse programme, said: ”These guilty pleas will hopefully encourage more victims of sexual abuse to come forward so they can finally get the justice they deserve. Even where allegations relate to the distant past they should be thoroughly investigated.”

News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin