Sunday 8 December 2019

Veteran TV presenter pleads 'not guilty' to sex abuse claims

British broadcaster Stuart Hall arrives at Preston Magistrates Court in Preston, northern England. Photo: Reuters
British broadcaster Stuart Hall arrives at Preston Magistrates Court in Preston, northern England. Photo: Reuters

Sam Marsden

Stuart Hall, the veteran BBC broadcaster who last year was awarded an OBE, has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing three girls.

The former 'It's A Knockout' presenter will stand trial in front of a jury at a Crown Court after he denied three charges of indecent assault dating from the 1970s and 1980s.

Hall, (83, pictured), is accused of molesting a nine-year-old girl by touching in 1983, kissing a 13-year-old girl on the lips in the following year, and fondling a girl aged 16 or 17 in Blackpool in 1974.

Appearing at Preston Magistrates' Court under his full name, James Stuart Hall, he was asked if he wanted to enter a plea.

He replied: "Yes I do. Not guilty to all three charges."

Joanne Cunliffe, prosecuting, said the case should be sent to the Crown Court because the charges were too serious to be dealt with at a magistrates' court.

Mr Hall is alleged to have indecently assaulted the 16-year-old between September 1 and December 31, 1974; the eight-year-old between January 1 and December 31, 1983; and the 13-year-old between July 1, 1984 and September 27, 1984.

After the brief hearing, district judge Peter Ward granted Mr Hall bail on condition that he lived at his home in Prestbury Road in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and had no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 17.

He will next appear at Preston Crown Court on April 16.

None of the alleged victims can be named for legal reasons.

Louise Straw, defending, told District Judge Peter Ward there would be no objection to the case being sent to the Crown Court, where the matter would go before a jury.

Mr Hall, who was first arrested on December 5 following an investigation by Lancashire Police, left the court building after the brief hearing, followed by TV cameras, photographers and reporters.

He has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century and was last year awarded an OBE.

His eccentric and erudite football match summaries have made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.

The BBC said Mr Hall would not be working at the corporation while he faced the allegations.

Mr Hall, who has been married to his wife Hazel for 54 years and has two children, was given an OBE in the 2012 Queen's New Year Honours list for services to broadcasting and charity.

Mr Hall enjoyed a broadcasting career stretching back 50 years. He presented 'It's A Knockout', the game show, and was also the original host of 'A Question of Sport'.

Renowned for his effusive football commentaries, the broadcaster remained a regular contributor to BBC Radio 5 Live until he was charged in December. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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