Sunday 18 March 2018

Rolf Harris: I’m a ‘touchy-feely sort of person’

Lizzie Dearden

ROLF Harris has performed part of his song “Jake the Peg” while giving evidence at his trial for alleged indecent assaults.

Sitting in the witness box at Southwark Crown Court in England, he sung to jurors and demonstrated how to play the didgeridoo.

Harris, 84, denies 12 counts of indecent assault on girls and women between 1968 and 1986.

When being questioned about allegations that he assaulted his daughter's 13-year-old friend while they were on holiday, he said he was a "touchy feely sort of person" but denied abuse.

Asked about her claim that he touched her when she got out the shower, Harris said it "didn't happen" and denied he had assaulted her at other times during the holiday in 1978.

In his first day of evidence on Tuesday, he was also questioned about his career in music and television.

Harris described the start of his career and the invention of the “wobble board”.

He said  he moved from Australia to London at the age of 21 to pursue a career as an artist because he did not want to be a “weekend painter” and earned money by performing in the evenings while studying.

Harris said he was inspired to try to carve a career in television after seeing an entertainer telling stories and doing drawings on TV and thinking he could do better.

He wrote to the BBC to ask for an audition but it was a disaster, the court heard.

He said: “It was a disaster because my selling ability was my ability to do drawings quickly and tell the story while doing the drawings, except that in a panicked situation I did all my drawings the night before in my little room in Earl's Court.”

But the BBC did offer Harris a slot on a show, marking the start of his TV career, the court heard.

Wearing a pin-striped suit and turquoise and purple tie, Harris initially stood while giving evidence, later choosing to sit down in the witness box.

Harris, of Bray, Berkshire, denies all charges. The trial continues.

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