Sex abuse scandal: Rolf Harris revealed as 'entertainer' arrested by police investigating abuse allegations in November - so why has his name only come out now?

Entertainer’s prolonged anonymity raises questions about practice of naming those arrested

After five months as an open secret, Rolf Harris – the artist formerly known as “Yewtree 5” – was named as a sex crime suspect after it emerged that his lawyers cited the Leveson report to try to stop the media from identifying him.

His name had been widely aired online, but Mr Harris was identified by the press for the first time as the man in his 80s who was questioned last year, on the day that Lord Justice Leveson's report was published.

The saga has raised questions about the practice of naming people who have been arrested but not charged.

In letters to some publications – but not to The Independent – the law firm Harbottle & Lewis said "there is no public interest in publishing such content as is entirely self-evident following the publication of the Leveson report". The firm did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr Harris, 83, had not been named following his questioning in November or his arrest this year, unlike other high-profile celebrities held during Scotland Yard's sprawling investigation sparked by the outing of Jimmy Savile as a prolific sex offender.

No police force in Britain names the people it arrests, usually referring to suspects only by their general location and age. Named suspects have been identified through lawyers, agents or neighbours, or after prominent police activity at their homes.

The apparent reluctance across the media to name Mr Harris appears to have a number of reasons: the unwillingness of his own representatives to confirm the arrest, the lack of sightings, and the timing of the Leveson report.

One newspaper story that claimed he had been treated at the Priory clinic also raised questions over his welfare in the event of publication. However, the decision by The Sun to lead the way followed a high-profile public performance by Mr Harris at the Royal Festival Hall in London in February.

In his report, Lord Justice Leveson wrote: "I think that it should be made clear that save in exceptional and clearly identified circumstances (for example, where there may be an immediate risk to the public), the names or identifying details of those who are arrested or suspected of a crime should not be released to the press or the public."

However, Chief Constable Andrew Trotter, who is drawing up guidelines for the Association of Chief Police Officers, drew a distinction between suspects being named by police and being revealed through research. "The police will only give out very limited information and will not confirm any names except in circumstances to prevent or detect crime, or some other reason in the interests of justice," he said.

The Australian-born entertainer is one of 12 people arrested under Operation Yewtree including the former pop star Gary Glitter, DJ Dave Lee Travis, comedians Freddie Starr and Jim Davidson, and PR guru Max Clifford. All deny any wrongdoing.

Mr Harris was held on suspicion of sexual offences and has been bailed until next month. Reporters who rang the buzzer at Harris's home in Bray, Berkshire, this morning were told "no comment" by a man who answered. His agent did not return calls.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

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
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'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life