Defence says Rolf Harris accuser flirted with star

Entertainer Rolf Harris arrives with his daughter Bindi and wife Alwen Hughes at Southwark Crown Court.   REUTERS/Andrew Winning
Entertainer Rolf Harris arrives with his daughter Bindi and wife Alwen Hughes at Southwark Crown Court. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Rolf Harris's defence team has said a woman who claims she was indecently assaulted by the entertainer in fact flirted with him before pursuing an adult relationship because they had "sexual chemistry".

The accuser, a childhood friend of Harris's daughter Bindi, says the Australian artist first assaulted her when she was 13 and continued harassing her until she was almost 30.

But during cross-examination, defence lawyer Sonia Woodley QC said the complainant actually instigated a consensual "affair".

Ms Woodley said an oral sex act the crown alleges took place when Bindi's friend was under 16 in fact happened after 1983 when she was at least 18.

The defence lawyer suggested the witness was jealous because Bindi had a new best friend and "flirted" with Harris at his home in Bray, west of London.

"There was sexual chemistry between the two of you," Ms Woodley said.

"One thing led to another and oral sex took place, him on you.

"I suggest you consented to that because at that time of your life there was sexual chemistry between you."

The alleged victim, now 49, repeatedly denied that was the case.

"There was no sexual chemistry at all," she told Southwark Crown Court.

The witness has said years of abuse by Harris transformed her from an "excruciatingly shy" but happy child to an alcoholic teenager.

Ms Woodley, however, suggested the alleged victim had made up some of the allegations altogether and misconstrued other consensual meetings.

She demanded to know why the complainant went on an overseas holiday with the Harris family in 1978 if she was scared of the entertainer and found him "creepy".

The alleged victim, who was 13 at the time, replied: "I wanted to go with Bindi and I knew Rolf wouldn't be around that much."

She claims Harris assaulted her for the first time on the trip after she'd had a shower in a hotel room in Hawaii.

Ms Woodley queried why there was "no hint of anything unpleasant" in the diary she wrote shortly after returning from the trip.

The witness said she hadn't included such details because she didn't want anyone to know what had happened.

The diary was a record of her holiday activities rather than her private thoughts, the court heard, and it was the complainant's mother who eventually handed it to police.

The witness had previously described an incident when, aged 22, she was with Harris in his red Mercedes when he pulled off the M4 motorway and asked her to perform oral sex. She didn't want to but did.

Ms Woodley on Tuesday suggested the alleged victim initiated that activity.

"It was you that started the foreplay by fondling his crotch while he was driving," the lawyer said, adding that was why Harris pulled over.

The witness, giving evidence from behind a curtain, replied: "I did not consent to it."

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC later asked Bindi's friend about the defence's suggestion she'd instigated sexual relations with Harris.

The alleged victim said: "No I certainly didn't. No way."

Ms Woodley on Tuesday argued the complainant couldn't recollect events properly because her memory was damaged by drinking.

She also repeatedly asked why the woman didn't do more to avoid being alone with Harris.

The witness said after years of abuse she "didn't really have a level of resistance".

"I just went along with it because I was scared of him," she told the court.

Harris is accused of indecently assaulting four girls, one as young as seven or eight, between 1968 and 1986.

The 84-year-old denies all the charges.

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