Stuart Hall: It's a Knockout cheerleader reveals assault at hands of presenter
Published 02/05/2013 | 16:45
The veteran BBC broadcaster has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting 13 girls aged between nine and 17 over an 18-year period, it can now be reported.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was just 17 when he grabbed her and pushed her up against a wall in the hotel where she was working in the early 1970s.
“I struggled, I tried to push him away and it was only the fact that there was someone walking along the corridor and the floors creaked that he stopped and I managed to get away,” she told ITV News.
Meanwhile, a former colleague said Hall had a room set aside at the BBC where he could entertain "lady friends" while waiting to appear on screen.
Linda McDougall, who worked as a producer at BBC Manchester in the late 1960s and 1970s, said the former presenter's activities were widely known about within the organisation.
She told BBC Radio 4's The World At One that she found Hall "a complete nuisance", adding: "He was one of those people who had his hands all over you and all over anyone female who came in at any moment he can.”
However, she stressed that she was “really shocked” to learn that Hall’s sexual offences related to children.
Hall, 83, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, admitted 14 historic counts of indecent assault dating from between 1968 and 1986 at a court hearing last month, but they can only be revealed today after reporting restrictions were lifted.
He had previously strenuously denied any wrongdoing, saying the allegations against him were “pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious”.
The woman who was indecently assaulted by Hall as a teenager had met him after being chosen to be a cheerleader on It's a Knockout, which was being filmed in her town.
However, it was 40 years before she contacted the police about what happened to her, prompted by the revelations about the decades of abuse committed by the late Jimmy Savile.
She said she felt “very, very pleased” that Hall had admitted the offences, adding: “He’s going to be given what he deserves.”
The woman said she believed there was a “fair chance” that the broadcaster’s colleagues knew about his assaults.
She said she had been traumatised by her experience and became “very cold” towards other people as a result, adding: “Over the years every time I've heard his voice on the television, on the radio, I just think, 'How can you do it, how can you be like that, in full view of everyone after everything you've done?'"
The BBC today pledged that it would not feature Hall in its programmes again and said it was “appalled” by his “disgraceful” actions.
However, eight years ago the Corporation defended the presenter when he told listeners of the Radio 5 Live Saturday morning show Fighting Talk that “your average 10-year-old” could give instructions in sexual acts, saying his comments were just “satirical banter”.
Hall was condemned by as an “opportunistic predator” by a senior Crown prosecutor after reporting restrictions relating to his guilty pleas were lifted at Preston Crown Court today.
The broadcaster’s barrister, Crispin Aylett QC, told the hearing: "The defendant is, of course, sorry for what he has done. Through me he wishes to apologise to his victims.
"He is not a man easily moved to self pity but he is only too aware his disgrace is complete."
The Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC, ordered Hall to sign the sex offenders register and warned him that all sentencing options remained open, including prison.
A brief outline of the abuse suffered by three of his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was outlined at an earlier hearing at Preston Magistrates' Court.
In the 1980s Hall molested a nine-year-old girl by putting his hand up her clothing.
He also kissed a 13-year-old girl on the lips after he said to her: "People need to show thanks in other ways."
On another occasion in the 1970s he fondled the breast of a girl aged 16 or 17.
Hall was charged with those three offences after being arrested by Lancashire Police in December last year.
He was later charged with historic sex offences against another 10 girls.
The broadcaster was also charged with raping a 22-year-old woman, but he pleaded not guilty to the allegation last month and the Crown decided that the count should lie on file.
Speaking after today's hearing, Nazir Afzal, the chief Crown prosecutor for the North-West, said: “We prosecuted Stuart Hall because the evidence of the victims clearly established a pattern of behaviour that was unlawful and for which no innocent explanation could be offered.
“His victims did not know each other and almost two decades separated the first and last assaults but almost all of the victims, including one who was only nine at the time of the assault, provided strikingly similar accounts.
"Whether in public or private, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences and then bide his time until the victim was isolated. He can only be described as an opportunistic predator.”
He added: “We have this week met with the woman who alleged that she had been raped by Stuart Hall, a charge which he has denied.
"The welfare of complainants is a top priority for us and we always take their concerns into account.
"In light of the guilty pleas already entered, the complainant no longer wishes to give evidence on the allegation of rape, and we have concluded that it would not be in the public interest to take steps to make her give evidence in court. As such, we will not be proceeding with this charge.”
Hall, a father-of-two who has been married for 54 years, was a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century and was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours list.
His eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Hall was granted bail until he is sentenced on June 17