'Vile' reaction to Vanessa Feltz's Rolf Harris claims

Vanessa Feltz has spoken to the BBC's David Sillito about the 1996 incident

Presenter Vanessa Feltz has described the reaction on social media to her claim Rolf Harris assaulted her during a live television interview as "vile".

On BBC London 94.9, she described how the disgraced entertainer put his hand up her dress and felt her legs during an interview in 1996.

She said the reaction she received after telling a newspaper what happened was "upsetting".

Harris, 84, has been jailed for nearly six years for 12 indecent assaults.

Feltz said she had not been able to say anything until after the trial.

However, she said after telling the Daily Express about the assault, she received an "outpouring of misogyny and hatred" on social media.

She said she found the reaction "so upsetting".

"The police came to me, I didn't go to them": Vanessa Feltz on BBC London 94.9

Describing the assault, which she said happened while she was a presenter on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, Feltz said: "I could feel the fabric of my dress being gathered up, and rolled up and rolled up obviously in his hand so he could get closer and closer, kind of up my legs.

"And I just thought, 'oh my gosh'."

'Unplanned commercial break'

She said the Australian entertainer made contact with her thigh and then moved higher up.

Feltz said she did not know what to do because it was live television.

She said: "If I don't do anything and just sit still this is going to end up exceptionally unpleasantly and I'm not prepared to sit here and have that happen to me, no way.

"So I did something as a presenter you're not allowed to do, which was I threw to an unplanned commercial break."

She said there was not even a "tiny glimmer" of recognition on Harris's face afterwards that he had done anything wrong.

Rolf Harris Rolf Harris was convicted of 12 indecent assaults

The presenter said it did not occur to her to go to the police.

She said: "I didn't want to break up a marriage, I didn't want to have a terrible effect on his career, and also I thought it wasn't that serious: after all I'd managed to stop it in the nick of time."

Of that decision, she said: "I regret it because I didn't know that it was happening to lots of other people. If I had known, I suppose I would have reacted differently."

Feltz added that since the incident she had seen the entertainer at various events but did not talk to him.

"I'd be sitting there as he'd be telling hilarious jokes at the introduction of say a charity event and I'd be thinking 'should I laugh, shouldn't I laugh, this is a very warped and strange thing'."

'Misogyny and hatred'

The revelation comes as singer Linda Nolan told the Sunday Mirror Harris groped her and kissed the back of her neck when she was 15.

She said the incident happened when she and her sisters were the support act on the singer's tour in South Africa.

Earlier, Feltz said she had been shocked by the response she received on social media after speaking to the newspaper, and still did not know why it stirred up a "storm of personal insults, and hatred, and bile".

"You think if people react like that, you can see why people don't come forward," she said.

"I'm 52 and I can handle myself so imagine if I was a seven-year-old child, or 12 or 17.

"I'm not saying just if it's someone famous, but imagine if it was your dad, uncle or teacher.

"The kind of reaction I have had, I found so upsetting. I was upset by the outpouring of misogyny and hatred and you know 'who would want to assault Vanessa Feltz'."

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