Rolf Harris guilty: Australia moves quickly to distance itself from 'embarrassing curiosity' after disgraced entertainer is jailed for sex abuse

Australia has moved to strip the entertainer of some of the numerous honours bestowed during a five-decade career

The conviction and sentencing of Rolf Harris this week for 12 counts of indecent assault has prompted a swift backlash in Australia as the country seeks to distance itself from one of its most famous sons.

The veteran entertainer, known in Australia as the "Boy from Bassendean", after the suburb of Perth where he was born, was found guilty of all 12 charges against him after a six-week trial in London and sentenced to five years and nine months in prison, capping a spectacular fall from grace.

Mr Harris, 84, assaulted four girls and young women aged from seven to 19 between 1968 and 1986, including his daughter Bindi's childhood best friend, the court found.

Just a day after a jury at Southwark Crown Court found Harris guilty, Australia moved to strip the entertainer of some of the numerous honours bestowed during a five-decade career.

"Following his conviction in UK courts, the ARIA Board has made the decision to withdraw the ARIA Hall of Fame award bestowed upon Rolf Harris," the Australian Recording Industry Association said in a statement on its website.

Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was "gutted and dismayed" by the sex crimes of Harris. The National Museum of Australia removed from display a leather jacket and two wobble boards that had been donated by the disgraced performer.

In a meeting this week the Perth city council voted to remove all his artworks from council chambers and rescind his status as a freeman. According to reports the plaque outside his childhood home was stolen before council officials could take it down. 

"We simply cannot tolerate the horrendous crimes for which he's been convicted," Bassendean Mayor John Gangell told ABC radio.

Harris' boyhood school has already removed his paintings - it's not clear what will become of the artworks. A public mural in Melbourne entitled "Entertainers of the Century" will see Harris' image painted over.

Read more: Rolf Harris sentenced to five years and nine months
Harris will not stand trial over child pornography allegations
Janet Street-Porter: Don't airbrush Rolf Harris from history

It seems likely now that Harris could also be stripped of his Order of Australia award, one the highest honours the nation can bestow.

The Australian press has also been swift in its backlash against the entertainer.

Tony Wright, writing in The Sydney Morning Herald describes Harris as an "embarrassing curiosity" and "kiddie fiddler".

"We were right from the start. The man was never cool at all. He was, and remains, an embarrassing curiosity", the column concludes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links