Rolf Harris verdict reaction

Key Points

  • Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris has been found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault by a jury at Southwark Crown Court
  • The Australian-born singer, painter and TV presenter carried out the assaults between 1968 and 1986
  • The 84-year-old assaulted four girls and young women, aged from seven to 19, and he will be sentenced on Friday
  • The NSPCC says it is "delighted" to have helped to uncover "the dark side" of Harris, who it says "hid behind his happy-go-lucky persona"
  1.  
    14:56:

    Entertainer Rolf Harris, 84, has been found guilty of all 12 counts of indecent assaults at Southwark Crown Court.

     
  2.  
    14:57:

    As the verdicts were read out, there was no reaction from Harris, his friends or his family. The entertainer sat upright in the dock, looking straight ahead, according to BBC reporters in court.

     
  3.  
    14:59:

    Harris will be sentenced on Friday, the court has just heard.

     
  4.  
    15:06:

    Harris's wife Alwen, daughter Bindi and niece Jenny were in court with him, as they have been throughout the trial.

     
  5.  
    15:09:

    The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, has told Harris that a custodial sentence is "uppermost in the court's mind".

    Harris is on bail and is expected to leave the courtroom shortly.

     
  6.  
    15:11:

    During his seven-week trial, prosecutors alleged the artist and television presenter was a "Jekyll and Hyde" character, who had a dark side to his personality and used his fame to abuse underage girls.

     
  7.  
    15:11:

    The verdicts came after the jury - made up of six men and six women - had been deliberating for eight days.

     
  8.  
    15:12:

    Harris was found to have indecently assaulted and abused a friend of his daughter Bindi from the age of 13 for several years, starting while she was on holiday with the family.

     
  9.  
    15:14:

    Judge Mr Justice Sweeney says he wants a medical report before sentencing, given Harris's age of 84

     
  10.  
    15:16:

    Bindi was described as being "tearful" as she looked at her father following the verdicts.

     
  11.  
    15:17:

    The judge thanked the jury, saying they "conducted themselves in exemplary fashion" during the trial.

     
  12.  
    15:19:

    Harris arrived at court with his family earlier as the jury resumed its deliberations.

    Rolf Harris arrives at court on 30 June 2014 with daughter Bindi (l), wife Alwen (r) and niece Jenny (second r)
     
  13.  
    15:20:

    The total jury deliberation time was 37 hours and 45 minutes, over an eight-day period.

     
  14.  
    15:22:

    Seven of the 12 counts Harris has been convicted of relate to the friend of his daughter, Bindi. He has been found guilty of indecently assaulting her when she was 15. The jury convicted him of performing a sex act on her against her will before she was 16 on two occasions. He has also been found guilty of indecently assaulting her in a swimming pool when she was 19.

     
  15.  
    15:24:

    Peter Watt, director of national services at the NSPCC, said the charity was "delighted to have played a major role in helping bring Rolf Harris to justice and to uncover the dark side of an entertainer who hid behind his happy-go-lucky persona while committing sexual offences".

     
  16.  
    15:26:

    Mr Watt said the NSPCC had received 28 calls about Harris through its helpline, including 13 people who said they had been abused by him.

     
  17.  
    15:28:

    The NSPCC says Harris was guilty of "reckless and brazen sexual offending, sometimes in public places, bizarrely within sight of people he knew". The charity says the facts speak "volumes about just how untouchable he thought he was".

     
  18.  
    15:30:

    BBC media and arts correspondent David Sillito was in court as the verdicts came in - a process he says took less than a minute. The court was not full, with the expectation being that the jury had a note for the court, not verdicts.

     
  19.  
    15:33:

    Harris gave "a slight nod" as each verdict came in, our correspondent says, but remained otherwise impassive. Leaving the dock, he acknowledged his wife, who held a tissue in her hand.

     
  20.  
    15:35:
    Tonya Lee Tonya Lee

    One of Harris's victims, Tonya Lee - who has waved her legal right to anonymity - recalls the abuse she suffered when she was 15: "I was absolutely petrified, I wanted to scream but I didn't. I knew that what he had done was wrong. I was embarrassed as well but I didn't want to tell anyone that he touched me."

     
  21.  
    15:38:

    Read a summary of all 12 charges Rolf Harris has been found guilty of here.

     
  22.  
    15:40:

    Conservative MP for Stourbridge Margot James tweeted: "Justice for victims of Rolf Harris, there are many others apart from those who brought charges, it is never too late for justice to be done."

     
  23.  
    15:42:

    Reacting to the verdict Peter Saunders, a spokesman for the charity National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), said: "The lives he shattered, he has got away with it and finally justice has caught up with him."

     
  24.  
    15:44:

    Mr Saunders calls for a royal commission to be set up by the government to look into the abuse of children, which he says has been going on for "generations".

     
  25.  
    15:46: Breaking News

    One of Harris's victims - a childhood friend of the disgraced entertainer's daughter Bindi - has reacted to hearing the guilty verdicts. The woman simply said: "I am very relieved, that's all I am prepared to say."

     
  26.  
    15:48:

    Peter Saunders (NAPAC spokesman) adds: "He [Harris] clearly has to go to prison on Friday", adding that "he has put his victims through hell".

     
  27.  
    15:50:

    A court sketch of the jury delivering its verdicts at Southwark Crown Court, with Harris listening from the dock with the help of a hearing loop.

    A court sketch of the Rolf Harris jury delivering its verdicts
     
  28.  
    15:52:

    Esther Rantzen, founder of the child protection charity ChildLine, tells the BBC she is "profoundly shocked" by Harris's crimes, saying: "It can happen from the most unlikely people. You know, some one once said, monsters don't get near children, nice men do. And very often it's people who you'd think were above suspicion that commit these terrible crimes."

     
  29.  
    15:54:

    Harris's career as an entertainer and presenter spanned decades, with his first appearance on our television screens coming in the 1950s. If you're viewing this on desktop, you can see his career in pictures here.

     
  30.  
    15:56:

    TV presenter and ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen adds: "If there is some good to come out of this awful case it is perhaps that children might be safer in the future."

     
  31.  
    15:58:

    Legal media commentator Felicity Gerry QC tweeted: "Will verdicts affect #RolfHarris position on Australia's most trustworthy person top 100 list?"

     
  32.  
    16:00:

    A former makeup artist - who told the trial that Harris assaulted her but was not the subject of any of the charges against him - tells the BBC: "I am thrilled that justice has finally been done. I am relieved that all the women who have been molested over the decades have finally got justice - and want to thank Operation Yewtree."

     
  33.  
    16:02:

    Here's another court sketch, showing Harris as he was found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault.

    Court sketch of Rolf Harris
     
  34.  
    16:03:

    Rolf Harris is not expected to give any statement or reaction outside court, the BBC has been told.

     
  35.  
    16:05: Mark Williams-Thomas, the investigative journalist who exposed Jimmy Savile,

    tweets: Huge media presence awaits #RolfHarris leaving - also police and CPS will be making a statement o/s Southwark CC in next hour

     
  36.  
    16:07:

    BBC News correspondent Jane Peel described the scene in court as Harris's daughter Bindi, niece Jenny and wife Alwen reacted to the verdicts.

    She said: "Twelve times the forewoman of the jury said the word 'guilty'. Harris remained completely impassive.

    "Bindi widened her eyes, looking stunned. Jenny turned to Harris's wife and gently shook her head."

     
  37.  
    16:07:

    Victim Tonya Lee, who waived her right to anonymity, said of Harris in a video interview: "I don't know how he sleeps at night".

     
  38.  
    16:09:
    Press outside court

    Members of the press and photographers are waiting outside Southwark Crown Court for Harris to emerge.

     
  39.  
    16:11: Journalist Jacquelin Magnay

    tweets: "Bindi Harris distraught, but Rolf and Alwen completely impassive - in shock at guilty verdict on 12 counts, Sentencing Friday #RolfHarris"

     
  40.  
    16:13: Breaking News

    DCI Michael Orchard of Scotland Yard, says outside court: Harris "committed many offences in plain sight of people as he thought his celebrity status placed him above the law."

     
  41.  
    16:15:
    DCI Michael Orchard DCI Michael Orchard

    DCI Michael Orchard says he hopes victims will have some closure.

     
  42.  
    16:17:

    Jenny Hopkins, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in London, says: "Each victim, unbeknownst to the others, described the same pattern of behaviour - that of a man acting without fear of the consequences."

     
  43.  
    16:18:

    She adds the prosecution of sexual offences is "often difficult and complex - perhaps even more so when the allegations are from some years ago".

     
  44.  
    16:19:
    Jenny Hopkins, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS in London Jenny Hopkins, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor

    Jenny Hopkins, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in London said: "I hope today's verdict provides other victims with the courage and confidence to come forward no matter who is alleged to have carried out the abuse and when."

     
  45.  
    16:23:
    Rolf Harris

    BBC reporter David Sillito looks back at the trial that led to the conviction of disgraced television entertainer Rolf Harris.

     
  46.  
    16:25:

    Rolf Harris has left Southwark Crown Court after being found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault.

     
  47.  
    16:26:

    Hand-in-hand with wife Alwen and daughter Bindi, Harris remained silent as he left the building and got into a waiting car.

     
  48.  
    16:28:

    He did not comment as reporters asked if he had anything to say to his victims or if he wanted to make an apology.

     
  49.  
    16:32:
    Rolf Harris

    Harris said nothing to waiting reporters as he left Southwark Crown Court.

     
  50.  
    16:35:

    BBC News correspondent Jane Peel says that now the "one-time national treasure is a convicted sex offender... his fall from grace is complete".

     
  51.  
    16:43:

    A leading lawyer in the field of historic sex abuse claims and president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, Peter Garsden, says the verdict was in part a great testament to the work of the police and prosecutors in painstakingly building a strong case.

     
  52.  
    16:46:

    The size of the press pack waiting outside Southwark Crown Court can be seen here as the Harris family left the building.

    Rolf Harris and family leave court
     
  53.  
    16:48:

    Mr Garsden told the BBC News Channel: "We hear of people, every day, who have kept the abuse that took place in childhood secret for 30 or 40 years. And they often think that they are the only one."

    Peter Garsden
     
  54.  
    16:50:

    Mr Garsden adds: "The importance here is that there are many other victims who were also abused in the same way so the claimants in the case had the courage to come forward because they realised that it wasn't only them - that there were others who suffered the same fate."

     
  55.  
    16:53:

    Harris is to be stripped of the honour he was given by Bafta two years ago.

    A spokesman for Bafta said: "The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has made the decision to annul the Bafta Fellowship bestowed upon Rolf Harris in 2012 following his conviction."

     
  56.  
    16:56:

    Harris could also lose his CBE. The Cabinet Office said it could not comment on individual cases, but normal protocol sees honours from Buckingham Palace forfeited when the recipient is considered to have brought the system into disrepute.

     
  57.  
    16:59:

    The Metropolitan Police has released Harris's mugshot.

    Rolf Harris
     
  58.  
    17:06:

    Vince Hill, a close friend of Harris, tells the BBC he "can't believe" the verdicts. He was even planning a surprise party, hoping the entertainer would be acquitted.

     
  59.  
    17:09:

    An emotional Mr Hill said he felt "defeated". He added: "I just hope that he holds out, and his wife Alwen, and his family. We're all getting on [in age] and this doesn't help."

     
  60.  
    17:14:

    Harris's official website, rolfharris.com, appears to have been taken down. It was available last week, but now all that appears on the site is an error message.

     
  61.  

    BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw tweets: "Rolf Harris questioned by police in Nov 2012 but not named by media til April 2013. His lawyers tried to stop his name coming out."

     
  62.  
    17:18:

    Here is a close-up picture of 84-year-old Harris and his daughter Bindi as they left court earlier this afternoon. He will return on Friday for sentencing.

    Rolf Harris and daughter Bindi
     
  63.  
    17:20:

    The reason Harris's website was taken down is that it had been subject to abusive comments, those who run the site tell the BBC.

     
  64.  
    17:24:

    Harris was accompanied to and from court by a security team, who tried to keep photographers back as the entertainer left Southwark Crown Court.

    Rolf Harris leaves court 30 June 2014
     
  65.  
    17:27:
    Rolf Harris

    Harris's daughter Bindi left the court hand-in-hand with her father, as she had done each day of the trial.

     
  66.  
    18:11:

    A woman who gave a statement to Southwark Crown Court, saying she had been subject to abusive behaviour by Harris, told the BBC she feels relieved after the guilty verdicts.

     
  67.  
    18:13:

    Asked for his reaction, comedian Ronnie Corbett shook his head and said: "Very upsetting."

     
  68.  
    18:18:

    Entertainer Cilla Black said she had thought Harris was a "lovely" man and added: "I'm disappointed. I'm really disappointed."

     
  69.  
    18:23:

    Scotland Yard has said it is considering new allegations against Harris which did not form part of the trial. If the allegations meet the force's threshold for investigation, then they will be looked into further, it said.

     
  70.  
    18:25:

    That concludes our live page on the reaction to Rolf Harris being found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault. He will be back at court on Friday and has been told to expect a custodial sentence.

     

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