Rolf Harris is either innocent or an idiot, defence lawyer says

Rolf Harris court sketch Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Rolf Harris is appearing in court in person, having previously used a video link

Rolf Harris is either innocent of indecent assault or an "idiot," Southwark Crown Court has heard.

Defence barrister Stephen Vullo QC told the London court Mr Harris had sought out many witnesses for the case.

"If he is guilty, or suspects he is guilty, why has he embarked or allowed investigators to embark on such an investigation?" Mr Vullo said.

The ex-entertainer denies four charges relating to alleged assaults on three teenage girls between 1971 and 1983.

Mr Harris, 87, was released from prison on Friday and is now appearing in the dock in person, having previously appeared via a video link.

The court was told investigators have tried to find people who were at the venues where the alleged incidents happened.

Mr Vullo said Mr Harris wanted to seek out as many witnesses as possible because he is certain of his innocence, adding that "if he is an idiot then he got lucky".

"Why make efforts to trace eyewitnesses who were there at the time of the events?"

The barrister then suggested this approach would be taken by two types of people.

"[It is] a man who is innocent and knows he is innocent, and knows that if a witness who is there with him on the day was found that she would be able to help him - or a total idiot because you would have to be a total idiot to ask for her to be found."

Image copyright Reuters

The court has previously heard statements from people who attended the events where the alleged assaults are said to have taken place.

They included those who denied seeing or hearing anybody upset or anything of concern taking place.

During his closing speech, Mr Vullo also addressed Harris's decision to not take the stand.

"If he cannot remember anything of [the allegations] then what can he say other than he cannot remember?"

Mr Harris is accused of groping a 14-year-old girl during a music event at the Lyceum Theatre in London in 1971.

Two further charges relate to alleged indecent assaults on a teenager in 1978, during filming for ITV celebrity show Star Games.

The fourth relates to a 13-year-old girl who claims he touched her breast after filming BBC children's TV programme Saturday Superstore in 1983.

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Jurors have been told Harris was convicted and sentenced for other offences in 2014.

Earlier, prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told the jury there is evidence of each alleged victim accusing Harris of assault "before" his name had been linked to any offence.

He described the alleged victims as "wholly independent of each other", and said it would be a "remarkable coincidence" for three women - who didn't know each other - to give police similar accounts.

In recalling a suggestion that an alleged victim may have been seeking compensation, Mr Rees said: "I suggest to you that she did not come across as the sort of lady who would make up evidence to get compensation."

The trial continues.

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