I’m a touch-feely person, Rolf Harris tells court at his sex assault trial

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 8:29pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 8:29pm


Australian entertainer Rolf Harris admitted being a "touchy-feely" person and said he was "sickened" by his affair with a teenage friend of his daughter, as he started giving evidence in his sexual assault trial in London.

The artist - a fixture on British television screens for decades - said the teenager had been "flirtatious and coquettish" with him and seemed to give him an "invitation".

Taking the witness stand at Southwark Crown Court, Harris, 84, sang part of his hit Jake the Peg and described his wobble board trademark sound, which he accidentally invented by shaking a hot painting board.

Harris is accused of 12 counts of indecent assault against four female complainants, aged from seven or eight to 19, between 1968 and 1986.

Seven of the counts relate to his daughter's friend, who claims Harris assaulted her over several years, dating back to when she was 13 and coming out of a shower during a trip to Hawaii.

But the television presenter insisted their relationship only began when she was an adult.

Harris said he felt "sickened" by his own behaviour, blaming himself for alcohol problems the woman later developed.

He said she was 18 when they had their first intimate encounter and she was staying at his house. He said she seemed to "invite" him by shaking off the duvet to reveal her bare legs.

"She was being very flirtatious with me. As you can imagine, it was a very flattering feeling," he said, adding that his "heart was thumping" as he touched her leg.

"It was all consensual and everything that had happened, she had been a willing participant," he said of their affair. But he felt "sickened by myself for being a part of it at all".

He said the woman later asked him for £25,000 (HK$326,000) to start an animal sanctuary and when he refused, she became "irate" and told him: "You'd better keep your eye on the weekend papers."

He said he would hug most people and was "a very touchy-feely sort of person".

He also revealed that he had a second affair with a "down-on-her-luck" woman who he and his wife had allowed to live rent-free in an annex at their home.