Rolf Harris trial: Veteran entertainer appears in court

Trial to begin over alleged historical indecent assaults

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The Independent Online

Rolf Harris has appeared in court for the start of his trial over alleged historical assaults against young girls and teenagers.

The 84-year-old entertainer arrived at Southwark Crown Court in London this morning with his wife, Alwen, and security team.

He denies 12 counts of indecent assault against four girls between the ages of eight and 19, said to have taken place from 1968 to 1986.

Sitting in the glass-walled dock in the packed courtroom, Harris watched as an initial panel of possible jurors was selected.

Mr Justice Sweeney told the court the evidence included events in Australia and New Zealand and anyone with family or close friends there would not be eligible to sit on the jury.

He said: “A fair trial is the right of all in this country. To state the obvious, the role of the jury is a vitally important one in ensuring the fulfilment of that right.”

He said they should have no connection with the case, so that they are ”able to reach true verdicts based on the evidence rather than on any preconceived ideas, beliefs or prejudices“.

The trial will start as soon as the jury is sworn in and is expected to take more than six weeks.

Harris was born in Australia but has lived in the village of Bray, Berkshire, for more than 50 years.

He has received a number of honours and was made Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2012.

The musician had his first hit was the song "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" in 1960, and continued to enjoy success in the industry as well as forging a television career.

In 2005, he painted a portrait of the Queen and performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert.

Harris has been granted conditional bail and is not being kept in custody while the case continues.

Additional reporting by PA