Rolf Harris trial: Ex-TV star cleared of sex assault charges

Image source, PA

Former TV star Rolf Harris has been cleared of three sex assault charges.

The jury at Southwark Crown Court failed to return a verdict on four other counts.

Harris, who found success with novelty pop hits and on children's TV, made no reaction when the not guilty verdicts were read out.

The 86-year-old is currently in jail after a 2014 trial saw him convicted of 12 sex offences against four females, including a girl under 10.

He was jailed for five years and nine months.

After deliberating for just under a week, the jury in the latest trial found Harris not guilty of indecently assaulting a young autograph hunter on a visit to a Portsmouth radio station with her mother at the end of the 1970s.

He was also cleared of groping a blind, disabled woman at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in 1977, and sexually assaulting a woman in her 40s after filming a TV show in 2004.

Harris 'grateful'

Judge Alistair McCreath discharged the jury from deliberating on the further four counts he was accused of.

These other alleged offences included Harris putting his hand up a teenage girl's skirt at a youth music event at London's Lyceum Theatre.

Another teenager accused him of grabbing her breast and sliding his hand between her legs while she helped on the TV programme Star Games in the summer of 1978.

A 13-year-old girl claimed Harris asked her: "Do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?" as he allegedly felt underneath her top after a children's TV show in 1983.

He was also accused of stroking a 19-year-old's bare back at a music studio near London Bridge in 2002, while allegedly making a sexual comment.

Stephen Vullo QC, defending, had told jurors Harris was innocent of these latest charges, as well as the indecent assaults over which he was convicted in 2014.

He blamed a "media frenzy" for making Harris "vulnerable to people making accusations against him".

The prosecution team asked for a week to decide whether to apply for a retrial. Harris has been remanded in custody until then.

His defence team said Harris was expected to be automatically released from prison for the sentence he is currently serving this summer.

Outside court, his solicitor, Daniel Berke, said: "Mr Harris is grateful for the care and attention this jury has given to his case and for the not guilty verdicts returned."

The end of a 60-year career

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Harris received the Bafta Fellowship in 2012

Until his arrest in 2013, Rolf Harris had been a fixture on screens in Britain and beyond since television took off in the 1950s.

He had shown early promise in sport and art - narrowly missing out on representing his native Australia as a swimmer at the 1948 Olympic Games and staging exhibitions of his paintings from the age of 16.

Illness led him to focus on painting, and he moved to London to enrol in art school, performing at cabaret clubs to earn money before auditioning for children's TV.

Harris became a regular on the BBC and commercial TV in the UK and Australia, hosting variety shows, children's programmes and animal welfare documentaries - the exposure even led to pop success and appearances at the Glastonbury Festival.

But it all ended with his conviction in 2014 for 12 indecent assaults on four women and girls between the 1960s and '80s.

More on this story

Related Topics