Entertainer Rolf Harris arrives with his daughter Bindi
(left) and niece Jenny at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Rolf Harris, according to his accusers, is a dirty old
man, a serial abuser who was so "handy" he eventually earned
the nickname "the octopus".
But to those standing by him, the embattled entertainer is
"tactile", in a warm and friendly way.
He's a "great hugger" who innocently envelops everyone he
meets whether they are young or old, male or female.
A string of supporting witnesses appeared in Southwark Crown
Court on Tuesday and they all said the same thing.
Choreographer Douglas Squires has worked with Harris for
Backstage they were often surrounded by beautiful dancers in
various states of undress.
Harris "never showed any voyeuristic tendencies", Mr Squires
told the jury in the 84-year-old's child sex abuse trial.
"He was very tactile, we all were.
"(But) he was like that with everybody, young and old."
The choreographer, who created the Young Generation and Next
Generation dance troupes, insisted Harris's hugs were never
sexual or inappropriate.
BBC producer Tina Fletcher-Hill worked alongside Harris on
Animal Hospital and then Rolf on Art.
She describes him as affectionate, kind and honest.
"He greets people with hugs, that's just Rolf," Ms
Fletcher-Hill said via videolink from the United States.
"I never witnessed anyone pulling back or feeling
uncomfortable with his tactile nature."
The producer told the jury Harris was happy to say to a
perfect stranger "My God you're beautiful" - but it would
never be in a sexual way.
Fellow character witness Jo Charles got to know Harris from
the late 1960s because her father Don Charles was managed by
the same agent.
He ended up running Harris's club in Malta where a woman
claims the Australian assaulted her in 1970 when she was 18.
But Ms Charles told the court she'd "never" seen Harris act
"He's lovely, he's gentle and kind, a real softy," the
"He's very, very tactile, he's a great hugger, he'd give big
Ms Charles said when she was older Harris would make comments
such as "Aren't you a curvy girl" and "You've got lovely
But she didn't mind because it was done in a warm rather than
The family friend described the celebrity as eccentric and
He'd make funny noises at dinner or burst into song.
"He's very, very unusual," she said.
Anne Marie Eve grew up on the same street where Harris and
his wife Alwen still live in Bray west of London.
Ms Eve told the court the former TV presenter would envelop
everyone he met in a big hug including her physician father.
Hugging both females and males was "two ends of the tactile
spectrum", she said.
Ms Eve admitted as a girl she found it irritating when Harris
would joke "When are you going to marry me?" but she insisted
he'd never groped her.
Former TV presenter Rosemarie Ford said Harris was a delight
to work with and he gave "lovely warm hugs" that were always
The entertainer is charged with assaulting four girls in the
UK between 1968 and 1986.
He's also accused of harassing another six women in
Australia, New Zealand and Malta.
Many of the alleged victims say the assault started with a
friendly hug. Harris insists all the women are lying.
The defence is expected to close its case on Thursday.
Following lawyers' speeches and Justice Nigel Sweeney's
summing up, the jury is likely to retire in the middle of
next week to consider its verdict.