Harris walks free from his retrial… and now he plots to clear name
ROLF Harris is to launch a fresh bid to overturn his sexual abuse convictions after paying private detectives to find evidence to brand his victims liars in his recent trial, it emerged yesterday.
The disgraced 87-year-old entertainer walked free from court after jurors failed to reach a verdict in a retrial, saying: ‘I feel no sense of victory – only relief.’
Now he hopes to clear his name after prosecutors announced he will not face a third trial over claims from three women who came forward after his
‘No sense of victory – only relief’
original conviction in 2014 for indecently assaulting four other women and children between 1968 and 1986.
After Harris’s three-year court battle finally came to an end, it can be revealed how the millionaire artist used private investigators and top lawyers to undermine his accusers.
He even launched a bid to go on trial via videolink from his £3 million home in Bray, Berkshire. The bid came as Harris was due to go free early from Stafford Prison halfway through his latest trial after serving less than three years of a fiveyear and nine-month sentence.
But Judge Deborah Taylor rejected the application and ordered him to appear at London’s Southwark Crown Court to face four charges of indecently assaulting three girls aged 13 to 16, which the jury were unable to reach a verdict on after a two-week trial.
Now he is to seek leave to appeal against his original conviction for attacks on children, whom his law- yer has branded ‘false victims’ out to get part of his £11 million fortune. His case is due to be heard before the Court of Appeal within the next few months. If he is successful, it would raise the possibility that Harris could seek compensation for wrongful imprisonment.
Victims reacted with fury to the tactics of Harris’s lawyers to portray them as lying gold diggers.
His youngest victim, Wendy Wild, who was just seven when she alleged she was groped at a disco in 1969, has repeatedly been branded a liar by Harris’s barrister Stephen Vullo QC. Mr Vullo suggested Miss Wild, who has waived her right to anonymity, was out for compensation, saying: ‘She indicated in court that ... the reason she had made her complaint was for closure.
‘She subsequently issued proceedings and received £22,000 in damages [from Harris].’
Another woman, who claimed Harris grabbed her breast when she was 13 at the BBC Television Studios in 1983, was asked by Mr Vullo: ‘Do you remember talk online of people going after Mr Harris’s £ 11 million fortune through compensation?’ She replied: ‘It’s never been about money.’ During the latest case, it also emerged that police did not question the mother of one of the alleged victims because she claimed she would take her own life if officers approached her after being quizzed by Harris’s private investigators.
Yesterday Judge Taylor cleared Harris of molesting a 14-year-old girl at the Lyceum Theatre in London on July 10, 1971, assaulting a 16- year- old during ITV’s Star Games in 1978, and grabbing the breast of the 13-year-old after children’s show Saturday Superstore.
In a statement, Harris said: ‘I feel no sense of victory, only relief. I’m 87 years old, my wife is in ill-health and we simply want to spend our remaining time together in peace.’
Court battle: Harris yesterday