Thursday 23 October 2014

Rolf Harris in court over charges

Published 23/09/2013 | 10:11

Rolf Harris faces nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of making indecent images
Rolf Harris

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris has appeared in court to answer charges of alleged assault against two teenagers.

The 83-year-old's lawyer indicated he will plead not guilty to nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child.

Harris was accompanied to Westminster Magistrates' Court, in London, by wife Alwen.

Wearing a dark pinstriped suit and patterned tie at the brief hearing, he spoke only to confirm his name, his address in Bray, Berkshire, and his date of birth.

The case will next be heard at Southwark Crown Court on October 7.

Harris walked slowly from the court building with his wife, who was using a walking stick, as police pushed back a tightly packed crowd of photographers and cameramen.

The Australian artist, musician and television presenter is accused of assaulting two alleged victims, who were aged 14 and 15 at the time, between 1980 and 1986.

Sonia Woodley QC, representing Harris, told the court his indicated pleas would be not guilty.

Deputy chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: "Clearly my powers are insufficient in this case and this matter will be going to the Crown Court."

Harris was released on bail on the conditions that he does not contact prosecution witnesses, lives at his home address in Bray and does not spend time with anyone under the age of 18 without being accompanied by someone over 21.

The 83-year-old was arrested by officers working on Operation Yewtree, the national investigation launched after abuse claims were made against Jimmy Savile, but the allegations against him have no connection to Savile.

The charges against him are:

:: Six counts of indecent assault relating to a girl aged between 15 and 16, from 1980 to 1981;

:: Three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl aged 14, in 1986;

:: Four offences of making indecent images of a child between March and July 2012.

Harris, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert last year, has been in the public eye for decades.

He had his first musical hit Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in 1960, and continued to enjoy success in the industry as well as forging a television career.

Harris, who has lived in Bray, for more than 50 years, has also received a number of honours and was made Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours last year.

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