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.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star