Rolf Harris accused of assaulting seven women and girls


Rolf Harris accused of assaulting seven women and girls

Image caption
Rolf Harris appeared by video link at Southwark Crown Court

Former entertainer Rolf Harris allegedly assaulted seven women and girls in a series of “brazen” attacks over a period of 30 years, a court has been told.

The 86-year old denies seven charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault and is appearing at Southwark Crown Court via video link.

The alleged victims were aged between 12 and 42, the jury was told.

All of the alleged assaults occurred in “public settings”, the court heard.

The alleged assaults, which are said to date between 1971 and 2004, could all be described as “unwanted groping”, the court heard.

Jonathan Rees QC, for the prosecution, said the alleged crimes took place “when there were other people in the near vicinity”.

The court heard: “None of these assaults is alleged to have happened in private.”

Mr Rees suggested the entertainer”s celebrity status made Mr Harris “apparently so brazen” in carrying out the alleged assaults.

Mr Harris is appearing in court via a video link from Stafford Prison during the trial, which is expected to last five weeks.

Inside the courtroom

Dan Johnson, BBC News

This is a highly unusual case. A man who achieved fame and fortune through television is on trial via a screen.

We”ve got used to seeing “celebrity” defendants arriving at court for high profile cases. Often they”re flanked by family and friends. Some try to avoid the cameras, others stop to pose for pictures.

Rolf Harris doesn”t have to run the gauntlet in that way. He isn”t actually here in the courtroom on London”s South Bank. Instead he is watching and listening to proceedings over a video link.

Everybody in court can see him, sat at a desk, smartly dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie. Occasionally he puts his head in his hands, sometimes he takes his glasses off to rub his eyes.

Despite his 86 years, the white hair and neatly trimmed beard make him instantly recognisable, somehow even more so because he appears – as most of us are used to seeing him – on a screen fixed to the courtroom wall.

On Monday, jurors paused in front of the camera so that Harris could see them and say whether he knew any of them.

Witnesses would be hidden from Mr Harris”s view by screens, the court heard.

Judge Alistair McCreath ruled last year that Mr Harris” age and health meant he should not have to attend the trial in person.

He told jurors in December: “We can very happily try Mr Harris without him having to be here… it naturally makes a lot of sense for him to attend his trial remotely.”

Some of the offences allegedly took place at BBC Television Centre in west London.