Rolf Harris charged with indecent assault of girls

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris has been charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of children, say prosecutors.

Harris was first arrested in March by officers investigating historical allegations of child sexual abuse. His arrest followed allegations made to officers on the Operation Yewtree investigations into sexual offences by TV and radio personalities in the 1970s and 80s.

Alison Saunders, chief Crown prosecutor for CPS London, said: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police Service as part of Operation Yewtree in relation to Rolf Harris, who was initially arrested on November 29 2012 over allegations of sexual offences. A file of evidence was passed to the CPS on August 12 2013.

“Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Harris to be charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child. The alleged indecent assaults date from 1980 to 1986 and relate to two complainants aged 14 and 15 at the time of the alleged offending.”

Harris will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 23.

The charges that he faces are:
* Six counts of indecent assault relating to a girl aged between 15 and 16, from 1980 to 1981;
* Three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl aged 14, in 1986;
* Four offences of making indecent images of a child between March and July 2012.

Harris was interviewed under caution on November 29 last year, five days after a search warrant was executed at his Berkshire home.

He was questioned as part of Operation Yewtree, the national police investigation sparked by allegations of abuse against DJ Jimmy Savile. Harris was publicly named as a Yewtree suspect only in April, when the Sun newspaper became the first media outlet to identify him in connection with the investigation.

The inquiry has been run in three strands – claims involving Savile, those involving Savile and others, and those involving others. Harris is being dealt with under the ‘others’ strand, meaning the allegations have no link to Savile.

The Australian, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert last year, has been a family favourite for decades.

He had his first musical hit Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in 1960, and continued to enjoy success in the industry, gaining cult status in recent years and performing at Glastonbury festival several times.

He also proved popular as a television presenter, getting his first big break in 1967 when he began hosting his own BBC One programme, The Rolf Harris Show, before moving on to children’s television in the 1980s and then to Animal Hospital, which he hosted from 1994 to 2004.

Harris, who has lived in Bray, Berkshire, for more than 50 years, was awarded an MBE in 1968, an OBE in 1977 and a CBE in 2006, and was made Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year.