Rolf Harris in court: Entertainer faces child porn and indecent assault charges

 

Rolf Harris, the television presenter, will deny indecently assaulting two teenage girls in the 1980s, a court heard today.

The 83-year-old appeared in a central London court facing nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images from last year.

Mr Harris, wearing a dark suit and multi-coloured tie, appeared nervous and frail in the dock and asked court officials to repeat questions, before he confirmed his name, date of birth and address.

A higher court should deal with the case because of the number, nature and repeated allegations of offending, said prosecutor Christine Atahanasius.

Mr Harris is accused of six offences of indecent assault against a girl aged between 15 and 16 in 1980-81, and three against a second girl aged 14 in 1986.

Mr Harris was given conditional bail after the five-minute hearing at Westminster magistrates court which was disrupted when the lights went out briefly.

He was told not to contact a number of named witnesses and not to have any contact with anyone under the age of 18 unless accompanied by someone aged over 21.

The case was adjourned until October 7 to Southwark Crown Court. He left without commenting to the media.

The entertainer from Maidenhead, Berkshire, was questioned by detectives on Operation Yewtree, the inquiry that grew from allegations against Jimmy Savile, last year, but his identity was not publicly revealed for months.

Police said that the allegations against Mr Harris had no link to his fellow BBC star Savile, who was unmasked as one of the country’s worst paedophiles last year following his death.

The DJ, Dave Lee Travis, and PR guru Max Clifford, have already appeared in court following charges laid after inquiries by Operation Yewtree. They have both denied wrong-doing.

Mr Harris, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert last year, has been a family favourite for decades.

He began hosting his own BBC1 programme, The Rolf Harris Show, in 1967 before moving on to children's television in the 1980s and then to Animal Hospital, which he hosted from 1994 to 2004.

Mr Harris was awarded an MBE in 1968, an OBE in 1977 and a CBE in 2006, and was made Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours list last year.

The charges are: 

•   Six offences of indecent assault relating to a girl aged between 15 and 16 from 1980 to 1981.

•   Three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl aged 14, in 1986.

•  Four offences of making indecent images of a child between March and July 2012.