Rolf Harris denies string of sexual assaults against four girls

 

Crime Correspondent

Rolf Harris, the royal artist and television entertainer, has denied sexually assaulting four girls - the youngest aged seven - in a string of alleged attacks said to have spanned nearly two decades.

The 83-year-old pleaded not guilty at Southwark Crown to 12 charges that dated back to the late 1960s including seven claimed indecent assaults against the same teenager when she was aged 15 and 19.

The charges include allegations that Mr Harris performed oral sex or touched the breasts, leg, buttocks and vagina of the girls.

Mr Harris, wearing a dark blue suit and red tie, pleaded not guilty in a clear voice as each of the charges were put to him.

His appearance at Southwark Crown Court came in the same court building as the trial of another high-profile BBC star, Dave Lee Travis, who was appearing three floors below on unrelated allegations.

Mr Harris, who arrived at court wheeling his wife Alwen in a wheelchair, sat in the glass-dock watched by other members of his family including his daughter Bindi and supporters in the public gallery.

He exchanged smiles and gestures, at one point putting his hand on his heart after fans gave him the thumbs up just a few yards from where he was sitting.

Harris is accused of six offences of indecent assault against a girl aged 15 in 1980-81 and a another alleged assault four years later when she was 19.

He faces a further three indecent assault charges against a second girl aged 14 in 1986, while he is also accused of indecently assaulting a girl aged seven or eight in 1968-9 and one aged 14 in 1975-76.

Mr Harris is yet to be arraigned on four other counts of making indecent images, the court heard.

Mr Harris, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert in 2012, has been a family favourite for decades.

He hosted 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 in 2012.

He has now been bailed, with a trial scheduled for 30 April. He has been told that he cannot contact any prosecution witnesses or spend time with anyone under the age of 18 unless he's accompanied by someone over 21.

The veteran performer - who made his name with Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport followed up by the number one hit Two Little Boys - made no comment to waiting reporters as he left the courtroom.

He, his family and security guards left the building in front of crowds of photographers and was driven away in a Volkswagen people carrier after the 70-minute hearing.

Mr Harris, who moved to Britain more than 50 years ago, is the highest profile celebrity arrested under Operation Yewtree, the inquiry triggered by the scandalous revelation that Jimmy Savile had been able to abuse hundreds of children over decades despite numerous concerns raised about his behaviour. The charges faced by Mr Harris are not linked to Jimmy Savile, police said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'