UK

Rolf Harris 'vulnerable' to false claims after conviction

Rolf Harris (court sketch by Julia Quenzler) Image copyright Julia Quenzler

A "media frenzy" has made Rolf Harris vulnerable to false accusations of indecent assault, his lawyer has told the former entertainer's trial.

Stephen Vullo QC said a 2014 jury which had convicted Mr Harris of a number of indecent assaults had "got it wrong".

This made him "vulnerable to people making accusations against him", Mr Vullo told Southwark Crown Court.

Mr Harris denies six indecent assaults and one sexual assault on victims aged 12-42, from 1971 to 2004.

In relation to one of the allegations, Mr Harris had faced alternative charges of indecent assault or sexual assault.

The jury has been instructed to consider a sexual assault charge in relation to this allegation.

The 86-year-old is currently serving a prison sentence for indecent assault on four females.

'Fall from grace'

Closing the defence case, Mr Vullo said: "It's difficult to imagine a harder or faster or deeper fall from grace than that suffered by Rolf Harris."

The defence team has repeated Mr Harris's claims of innocence in relation to the earlier conviction.

Mr Vullo added: "The media frenzy has without doubt made him vulnerable to people making accusations against him. There is no doubt about that."

But each charge against Mr Harris "falls far below" the required standard to convict him, argued Mr Vullo, adding: "We say enough is enough."

Until last week Mr Harris had followed the trial via a video-link from prison, but he sat in the dock for the hearing on Wednesday.

In the prosecution closing speech on Tuesday, Jonathan Rees QC said: "It is striking that so many of the allegations involve Mr Harris getting away with a sly, quick grope right under the noses of people who did not notice.

"We suggest that Mr Harris was very good at getting away with it."

He argued that the previous conviction showed that Mr Harris "has a propensity and appetite for indecently assaulting females".

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