Rolf Harris assault trial begins

Published Tuesday, 06 May 2014
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The trial of Rolf Harris over a number of indecent assault charges has begun.

Rolf Harris assault trial begins
Rolf Harris and his wife Alwen (L) arrive at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday. (© Getty)

The veteran entertainer is accused of assaulting four girls, the youngest of whom was seven or eight and the oldest 19, between 1968 and 1986. He denies all charges.

Harris arrived at London's Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday with his wife Alwen and his security team.

Jury selection began on the first day of the trial, with the prosecution case to open later in the week.

The judge told the panel of 17 potential jurors: "A fair trial is the right of all in this country. To state the obvious, the role of the jury is a vitally important one in ensuring the fulfilment of that right."

Mr Justice Sweeney continued: "In our crown courts, it is the jury consisting of 12 people chosen at random and with no connection with the case who are the judges of the facts and who alone decide what the true verdicts according to the evidence are in the case that they are trying.

"Sitting in judgment on our fellow citizens is one of the most important duties that any of us can be called upon to perform and once summoned, as you have been, it is a duty that must be undertaken unless there is a compelling reason that requires a potential juror to be excused."

He said they should have no connection with the case, so that they are "able to reach true verdicts based on the evidence rather than on any preconceived ideas, beliefs or prejudices".

The potential jurors chosen from the pool were told they are likely to be called back on Thursday. The trial is expected to take more than six weeks.

Harris has been in the public eye for decades after having his first musical hit Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in 1960.

He continued to enjoy success in the industry as well as forging a television career.

Harris also received a number of honours during his career and was made Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2012.

© UTV News
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