Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris attempts to overturn all 12 of his sex convictions in fresh court battle

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
<em>Rolf Harris is battling to overturn all of his sex convictions (Rex)</em>
Rolf Harris is battling to overturn all of his sex convictions (Rex)

Rolf Harris will battle to clear his name today by having all 12 of his sex convictions overturned at the Court of Appeal.

Harris, 87, from Bray, Berkshire, is making a fresh bid to challenge “unsafe” indecent assault convictions, claiming fresh evidence hindered his right to a fair trial.

The artist and musician was convicted of 12 indecent assaults at London’s Southwark Crown Court in June 2014, one on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, two on girls in their early teens, and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years.

A few months after he was found guilty he failed in an attempt to bring a challenge when a judge refused his application for permission to appeal after considering the case papers.

During the latest round of his battle against conviction, three judges will hear submissions on behalf of Harris, who has attended the hearing, and from the prosecution, which is contesting the application.

<em>The veteran entertainer claims fresh evidence hindered his right to a fair trial (Rex)</em>
The veteran entertainer claims fresh evidence hindered his right to a fair trial (Rex)

One of the grounds is that there is “fresh” evidence which supports Harris’s case, and complaint is also made about a direction made to the jury by the trial judge relating to the credibility of complainants.

The father of the youngest victim told the court that he would not have let her go to a community centre where she said Harris groped her in Portsmouth in 1969 because of her age.

Harris’ defence barrister Stephen Vullo QC said her father would have known if Harris was there at the time as it would’ve been “common gossip”.

Mr Vullo said of the claims Harris was at the community centre: “Is the reality just blindingly obvious that he just never attended?

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“In my respectful submission this is classic fresh evidence – it is real and an issue that was not raised at trial.”

Harris, a family favourite for decades, was jailed for five years and nine months after being convicted of a string of assaults which took place between 1968 and 1986.

The Australian-born television presenter has since been released from that sentence.

<em>Harris was previously cleared of unconnected historical sex offences in May (PA)</em>
Harris was previously cleared of unconnected historical sex offences in May (PA)

In May this year he was formally cleared of unconnected historical sex offences, which he had denied.

He was formally cleared of four counts of indecent assault against girls as young as 13 after a retrial ended with a hung jury.

At the end of Tuesday’s hearing, Lord Justice Treacy announced the court would not give a ruling immediately after submissions from both sides were completed.

He said the application “requires careful consideration and assessment”.

The hearing continues.

Below Harris’ lawyer reads a statement after he was cleared of unconnected historical sex offences in a separate hearing in May: