Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris biography

One charge was that he sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl who asked for his autograph at a community centre in Hampshire in 1968 or 1969. When questioned by police about this allegation, Harris replied "I would simply never touch a child inappropriately." He denied that he had visited Cambridge until four years before the trial, but television archive material was produced in court showing that he had taken part in an episode of the ITV show Star Games, which had been filmed in Cambridge in 1978. Harris denied that he had told a deliberate lie and said that his failure to remember the show was a "a lapse of memory." Additional witnesses from Malta, New Zealand, and Australia were called to testify against Harris, although these charges could not be pursued in the British courts.

Conviction and imprisonment

After several delays in the trial, where the judge's summing-up took three days, the jury retired to consider its verdict on 19 June. On 30 June, Harris was found guilty of all 12 counts of indecent assault.

On 4 July Harris was sentenced to a total of five years and nine months in prison for the offences. Passing sentence, Judge Mr Justice Sweeney said "You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all. Your reputation now lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours but you have no one to blame but yourself." Some sentences were expected to run consecutively, and Harris was expected to serve half of the total time in prison. He was told he must pay prosecution costs, though not compensation to the victims. The sentence was referred to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve after complaints that it was too lenient. On 30 July 2014, the new Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, announced that he would not be referring the sentence to the court of appeal for review "as he did not think they would find it to be unduly lenient and increase it. The sentencing judge was bound by the maximum sentence in force at the time of the offending." On 1 August 2014, the Judicial Office said that Harris had applied to appeal against his conviction and that his lawyers had lodged papers at the Court of Appeal.

Since Harris's conviction there have been further reports to police regarding alleged sexual offences by him.

Honours

Harris received a number of awards and honours. Following his conviction, many of these were rescinded. Harris was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1968; he was advanced to Officer (OBE) in 1977, then to Commander (CBE) in 2006. In 1989 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), and was advanced to Officer (AO) in the Queen's 2012 Birthday Honours. In 2001 he was awarded the Centenary Medal "for service to entertainment, charity and the community".

Harris has received two honorary doctorates: from the University of East London in 2007 and Liverpool Hope University in 2010. Following his conviction, both universities removed his honorary doctorates.


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