Stuart Hall has had his 15-month prison sentence for sex offences doubled by Court of Appeal judges.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mrs Justice Macur, sitting in London, ruled that the original 15 months was ‘inadequate’ and should be upped to 30 months.
The disgraced broadcaster, 83, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, who admitted 14 counts of indecent assault against girls as young as nine between 1967 and 1987, kept his head bowed as he listened to proceedings via video link from HMP Preston and showed no reaction as the decision was announced.
The case was referred to the court by Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who argued that Hall’s sentence was ‘unduly lenient’ as it failed to adequately reflect the gravity of his offending and the ‘public concern’ about such crimes.
Former It’s A Knockout presenter Hall was sentenced to the 15 months at Preston Crown Court last month by the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC.
Lord Judge said Hall ‘got away with it’ for decades and had ‘”lived a lie for more than half of his life’.
After the announcement, Mr Grieve said: “I asked the court to consider the multiple offending by Stuart Hall over a prolonged period of time which involved numerous victims.
“I also asked that the court take into account the breaches of trust in this case – Hall carried out some of these offences in places where the victims were entitled to feel safe, he used his celebrity status to invite them to attend the BBC, and he also displayed an element of planning and premeditation.
“I am pleased that the court found that 15 months was unduly lenient and have today increased that sentence to 30 months and I hope that this case has highlighted the fact that historical sexual offences are always taken very seriously and show that the law still applies, whoever the offender may be.”
Hall directly exploited his role as a popular BBC presenter to target four of his victims, while he assaulted another four on the pretence of giving elocution lessons to them at his home.
Before entering his guilty plea in April, he had made a public pronouncement on the steps of a court, describing all the claims against him as ‘cruel, pernicious and spurious’.
Hall was arrested and subsequently charged on December 5 last year with indecently assaulting three young girls.
More women came forward as a result of publicity and he was rearrested before he later admitted sexual offences relating to 13 victims.
Judge Russell told Hall: “Several of these cases reveal an abuse of the trust placed in you by the parents of these children but all of them reveal an abuse of power by you because your status gave you an influence and standing which you abused.”
The judge said Hall would have received 20 months after a trial but he reduced the sentence to reflect his guilty pleas.
He concluded: “This is by no means the worst example of sexual abuse of children to come before the court but, notwithstanding the mitigation, I have come to the conclusion that, taken together, these offences do call for a sentence of imprisonment which must be served immediately.
“The repeated sexual abuse of young children, too young to consent and in no position to resist your advances, even if the individual acts are relatively mild, is a serious crime and it must be made clear to anyone tempted to take advantage of young children and other vulnerable victims that they face condemnation and punishment.”
At the Crown Court, Hall’s defence barrister Crispin Aylett QC said that 27 years had passed since the last offence and the presenter had led an ‘unblemished’ life over those years.
The length of the jail term was immediately criticised as ‘unduly lenient’ by shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry, who urged Mr Grieve to look at the matter.
Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party, also added to calls for the sentence to be referred.
Lord Judge said today that the court took the view that Hall’s earlier public denial was a ‘seriously aggravating’ feature of the case.