الجمعة , مايو 21 2021

Police review fresh Harris claims



Rolf Harris leaves court flanked by his wife Alwen and daughter Bindi

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The BBC’s David Sillito takes a look back at Rolf Harris’s case

Police are considering fresh allegations against Rolf Harris after he was convicted of indecently assaulting four girls.

The entertainer was found guilty on Monday of 12 counts of indecent assault in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Following the verdict, police said they would look at fresh allegations, which did not form part of his trial.

Australian PM Tony Abbott said he was “gutted and dismayed” by the Perth-born 83-year-old’s conviction.

Mr Abbot told Australia’s ABC radio sexual abuse was “an utterly abhorrent crime” and added: “It’s just sad and tragic that this person, who was widely admired, seems to have been a perpetrator.”

Custodial sentence

Prosecutors said Harris was a “Jekyll and Hyde” character who took advantage of his fame.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, said a custodial term would be “uppermost in the court’s mind” when sentence was delivered on Friday, but he wanted to see a medical report before passing sentence.

Rolf Harris police mugshot The Metropolitan Police have issued a photograph of Harris taken after his arrest

The central allegation concerned a friend of Harris’s daughter, who the court heard he had groomed and molested from the age of 13 until she was 19.

The other victims told the court they were touched or groped by Harris, sometimes at his public appearances.

Six other women also told the court about indecent assaults Harris had carried out against them. The entertainer was not prosecuted over those incidents but the evidence was introduced by the prosecution as an added illustration of his behaviour.

Harris, from Bray, Berkshire, was first questioned in November 2012 in Scotland Yard’s Operation Yewtree investigation set up in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against the late BBC Radio 1 DJ Jimmy Savile.

Although his arrest was unconnected to Savile’s offending, the publicity surrounding that case had prompted the friend of Harris’s daughter to come forward.

Harris was not initially named by the police or identified in the mainstream media until a few weeks after his arrest in March 2013.

The other women who gave evidence in court contacted police after Harris’s arrest was made public and he was charged in August of that year.



Tonya Lee

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Tonya Lee said she had been abused by Harris while on a visit to the UK when she was 15

One of his victims, Tonya Lee, 43, said the abuse had led her to contemplate taking her own life.

The mother-of-three said: “To this day I can’t go to sleep without lying in a lounge and having the TV on. I cannot lie in a room and try and sit with my thoughts and go to sleep.”

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For older Australians Harris was one of the country’s best known exports, a household name”

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Letitia Fitzpatrick, who gave a character reference for the prosecution about an alleged assault, told the BBC: “It was such an unpleasant experience that I just wanted to forget about it and move on and not really think about it again.”

Peter Watt, director of national services at the NSPCC, said the children’s charity had had 28 calls about Harris through its helpline, including 13 people who said they had been abused by him.

He added: “His reckless and brazen sexual offending, sometimes in public places, bizarrely within sight of people he knew, speaks volumes about just how untouchable he thought he was.”

Speaking after Harris was convicted, Det Ch Insp Mick Orchard, said: “I want to thank the women who came forward for their bravery, I hope today’s guilty verdict will give them closure and help them to begin to move on with their lives.

“Today’s case and verdict once again shows that we will always listen to, and investigate allegations regardless of the time frame or those involved.”

And a Met spokesman added the force had “received a number of allegations and these are now being considered”.

Rolf Harris leaving Southwark Crown Court after the verdicts on 30 June 2014Harris made no comment when he left court after the verdicts

Rolf Harris arrives at court on 30 June 2014 with daughter Bindi (l), wife Alwen (r) and niece Jenny (second r)He was accompanied on most days of the trial by his daughter Bindi, wife Alwen, and other relatives

Rolf Harris with the Queen and Kylie Minogue at the Diamond Jubilee concert in June 2012Harris painted a portrait of the Queen in 2006 and took part in her Diamond Jubilee concert six years later

Harris was a mainstay of family entertainment in Britain and his native Australia for more than 50 years. He arrived in London in 1952, becoming a fixture on TV screens as a children’s entertainer, songwriter, and entertainer, on the BBC and other networks.

Harris was also an artist and painted a portrait of the Queen to mark her 80th Birthday in 2006.

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