UK

Rolf Harris indecent assault jury 'got it wrong'

Rolf Harris Image copyright JULIA QUENZLER

The jury that in 2014 convicted Rolf Harris of a series of indecent assaults "got it wrong", his lawyer has told a second trial on further allegations.

Stephen Vullo QC told Southwark Crown Court that his client had been wrongly found guilty of assaults on four women.

Mr Harris will not give evidence at this trial, Mr Vullo said.

The former entertainer, 86, denies seven charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault on victims aged between 12 and 42, from 1971 to 2004.

He is following proceedings via a video-link from prison.

'Unlikely' location

Mr Vullo said: "What do we say about trial one? In short, we say that the jury got it wrong."

He said the defence team had "enormous faith" in the jury system but "no system is infallible".

The jury heard evidence about Mr Harris's conviction for assaulting an eight-year-old girl at a community centre in 1969.

His then personal assistant described it as "highly unlikely" Mr Harris would have been at the centre, in Portsmouth, because of his high level of fame.

Bruna Zanelli said: "He was a major star... a household name. We were a management that was highly esteemed. And we wouldn't have sent any client to work at a community centre. It just wouldn't have happened."

Mr Harris maintains his innocence and has pleaded not guilty to assaulting seven girls and women in a series of "brazen" attacks spanning 30 years, the most recent in 2004, the court has heard.

Mr Vullo told the jury that part of the evidence would relate to Harris's first trial, but that they should focus on the latest allegations.

'I cannot remember being there'

The jury was also told about an answerphone message left for one of the victims in the first case.

In the 2013 message the victim, who was aged 15 when Harris assaulted her in a London pub while she was on a visit from Australia, is accused by her ex-partner of lying about her allegation against the entertainer.

In an email sent to British police the following year, the victim's ex-partner said the woman made up the allegations after hearing of Mr Harris's arrest in the UK.

The man, who the court heard had been physically abusive during the relationship, told police he felt obliged to support her at the time.

In his email he said: "To my knowledge Mr Harris is innocent of (her) claims."

On Mr Harris not giving evidence, Mr Vullo pointed out some of the alleged offences in the current trial went back four decades, and said calling the entertainer would not help a great deal.

"If the defendant can say no more to you than 'I cannot remember being there', the evidential importance of giving evidence is actually quite weak," he said.

The case continues.

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