Rolf Harris guilty: The hypocrite who warned children about paedophiles

'Problem has reached horrendous proportions' he warned after making of 20-minute programme

Rolf Harris made a ground-breaking television film warning children about the tell-tale tactics of paedophiles some 15 years after he had started his string of attacks.

The performer had already abused at least three children, aged about seven, 13 and 16 before he claimed to have been inspired to make the 20-minute programme by a school performance he had seen in Canada in 1982, according to his collaborator on the project.

"It is a problem which has reached horrendous proportions all over the world," said Harris in an interview the year after it was made. "It's been pushed under the carpet for too long and has to be brought out into the open in a major way."

Read more: Veteran 'attacked high-profile TV presenter'
Rolf Harris - the letter that sealed his fate
The PR battle waged behind the scenes by Bell Pottinger

The video – for education programmes in schools – used children from a stage school in painting a series of scenarios in which children could be exploited. It features a song, penned by an American children’s songwriter, sung by Harris with the refrain: “My body’s nobody’s body but mine, you run your own body, let me run mine”.

The film, made with advice of the NSPCC and aimed at children aged five to eight, features Harris talking with children about ‘yes’ and ‘no’ feelings and ends him singing with a group of children with adults and two police officers in the background.

The film addresses attempted grooming by strangers as well as people that they know very well. “Everybody, that’s kids and grown-ups, they have a right to their own body don’t they?” he says in the programme. “Some people don’t act right with kids and they need help. You can’t protect them from trouble that they themselves have caused.”

The 1985 programme was made some seven years after he first abused a 13-year-old who he treated as a prostitute for his own sexual gratification for the next 15 years, the court heard.

The first case of abuse for which he was charged dated back to around 1969 when he molested a girl who was of a similar age to the children in the programme.

The film was made with members of the Barbara Speake stage school and followed a similar one on water safety. One of the children who took part in the video said that the entertainer had beeped at older girls at the school and had tried to chat them up. “It was a stage school from four to 16 so we knew what the older girls were saying,” said the pupil. “I remembered those conversations so it wasn’t a big shock [when he was arrested].

“I remember saying to a friend that I would put him in the same category as Savile. It was that same feeling when you were around. He was a bit lechy.”

'I remember saying that I would put Harris in the same category as Savile' 'I remember saying that I would put Harris in the same category as Savile' The year after he made the film, he molested a 14-year-old Australian girl in a London pub as she toured Britain with a theatre group. The woman, Tonya Lee who has waived her right to anonymity has told of how the incident led to later alcoholic abuse, an eating disorder and attempted suicide.

The NSPCC distanced itself from the making of the film. “They apparently came to use to get some guidance on what they should get the children to,” said a spokesman. “We gave a bit of advice. It’s not our film and we never used it.”

Director Jessica Skippon said that there had been no complaints during the making of the film. “He said that he’d had a happy childhood and every child deserved the same,” she said in an email.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Nick Clegg on the campaign trail in Glasgow on Wednesday; he says education is his top priority
peopleNick Clegg remains optimistic despite dismal Lib Dem poll ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Déjà vu: David Tennant returns to familiar territory with Anna Gunn (‘Breaking Bad’)
tvReview: Something is missing in Gracepoint, and it's not just the familiar names
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?