Entertainer Rolf Harris to deny child sex offences

Harris accused of nine counts of indecent assault in 1980s and four counts of making indecent images of a child last year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 11:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2013, 11:08am

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris intends to plead not guilty to indecent assault and child pornography charges, his lawyer told a London court hearing Monday.

The 83-year-old performer faces nine counts of indecent assault on victims aged 14 and 15 and four counts of making indecent images of children. The alleged incidents stretch back to the 1980s.

Harris, who was accompanied by his wife Alwen, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth during the brief pre-trial hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Deputy chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot sent Harris for a hearing at Southwark crown court on 7 October and released him on conditional bail. Harris is prevented from having any contact with any person under the age of 18, unless supervised by someone over the age of 21, as part of his bail conditions.

He made no comment to the media as he passed dozens of photographers and camera operators outside the court buildings. Harris, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and performed at her diamond jubilee concert last year, has been a fixture of British television for decades.

Defence lawyer Sonia Woodley said Harris would deny the charges when asked to enter a formal plea at a later hearing.

Australia-born Harris has been a British broadcasting stalwart for decades. He has had musical hits with “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” — which he once performed with The Beatles — and “Two Little Boys.”

He also has hosted television shows and painted an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

Harris was initially interviewed under caution on 29 November last year under the Operation Yewtree investigation into alleged sexual offences by Jimmy Savile and others. He was then arrested on 28 March and bailed pending further inquiries. He is the fourth to be charged under the investigation, alongside the DJ Dave Lee Travis, celebrity publicist Max Clifford and driver David Smith.