Rolf Harris accused of lying at UK trial

Rolf Harris. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Rolf Harris. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Rolf Harris has been accused of deliberately lying to the jury in his child sex trial after video emerged of him at a celebrity sporting event in Cambridge in 1978.

The entertainer, who's charged with groping a teenage girl in Cambridge in the mid-1970s, last week insisted he'd never been to city until three or four years ago.

But the jury on Monday was shown newly-uncovered footage of the Australian participating in Star Games in 1978 at Jesus Green in Cambridge.

Harris was captain of the "Theatre" team, participated in a swimming race and painted a mural on a wall, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said the footage proved Harris was lying when he said he hadn't been to Cambridge until recently.

"That was a deliberate lie, wasn't it?" Ms Wass asked the artist and singer.

Harris replied: "No ... a lapse of memory." The 84-year-old said he had no idea he was in Cambridge until he saw the Star Games footage on Thursday.

Ms Wass appeared incredulous, asking: "You didn't know where you were?"

"I don't think any of us (in the show) did," Harris replied.

"We all went on a bus to get there. We were deposited on the green.

"I was in Cambridge but I didn't know it was Cambridge." But Ms Wass told Harris there was no way he could have forgotten participating in Star Games.

"You deliberately tried to mislead the jury," the prosecutor said.

The alleged victim initially said she'd been groped by Harris at what she thought was a celebrity version of It's a Knockout in Cambridge in around 1975 when she was 13 or 14.

She turned 16 in early 1978.

During her evidence in mid-May the woman told the court: "The incident is bright red in my mind and everything else is grey." She said Harris groped her after she'd been drawn to a crowd which was watching Harris on all fours barking at a dog.

Harris on Monday was asked whether he now accepted that Star Games was filmed at Cambridge.

"It was a suburb of Cambridge," he said.

The 84-year-old also disputed the show was similar to a celebrity version of It's a Knockout.

Ms Wass concluded by stating that while Harris claimed all the women in the case were lying, the Cambridge footage showed in fact "you are the one that has lied".

Harris became increasingly combative during the rigorous cross-examination leading Justice Nigel Sweeney to intervene at one point.

"That's enough," the judge warned Harris, adding he was not to ask questions of Ms Wass but rather answer them.

"It's not a verbal joust." Harris was subsequently asked by defence lawyer Sonia Woodley QC if he deliberately misled the court.

"It wasn't a deliberate lie," he said.

"As far as I remembered I had never been to Cambridge and, until I saw that opening couple of frames of that program, I had no idea that program was done in Cambridge."

Harris then returned to the glass-walled dock to watch his daughter Bindi Nicholls give evidence from the witness box.

The main complainant in the case was Bindi's childhood friend. She claims Harris first abused her when she was 13 and joined the family on an overseas holiday in 1978.

The complainant says Harris indecently assaulted her in a Hawaii hotel room after she'd had a shower and again on the beach when wrapping her in a towel.

Ms Nicholls on Monday was asked whether her parents ever came into to girls' hotel room.

"Nah," she replied.

Harris's daughter also said it would be "weird" for her father to wrap her friend in a towel on the beach because "generally teenagers dry themselves".

"No I can't see that happening," the 50-year-old artist told the jury.

Ms Nicholls said her friend was "incredibly independent" and moreover Harris hated sunbathing and was unlikely to have been on the beach.

Ms Wass last week asked Harris if he'd told his daughter to back his claim that he'd had a consensual "affair" with her friend that only started after she turned 18.

"No, no discussions at all," the entertainer replied.

Harris is charged with indecently assaulting four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986. The 84-year-old denies all 12 counts.

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
Staley Cardoza Lawyers DunedinBusiness Services
Prices Packers & Movers LtdDunedinTransport & Haulage
Hirequip BalcluthaBalcluthaEquipment & Machinery
Cafe Vega / Meals 2 YouDunedinCafés