Rolf Harris

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Rolf Harris

Harris in November 2010
Born 30 March 1930 (1930-03-30) (age 85)
Bassendean, Western Australia
Residence London, United Kingdom
Occupation Musician, singer-songwriter, composer, comedian, television personality, presenter, actor, broadcaster and painter
Years active 1950-2014
Criminal charge 12 counts of indecent assault
Criminal penalty Five years, nine months in prison
Criminal status Imprisoned
Spouse Alwen Hughes
(m. 1958–present)
Children Bindi Nicholls[1][2]
Rolf Harris sketching a Rolfaroo self-portrait

Rolf Harris, (born 30 March 1930) is an Australian musician, singer-songwriter, composer, painter, actor, former television personality and former swimmer. He is in prison for sexually assaulting girls.

Early and personal life[change | change source]

Harris was born in Wembley Park, Perth, Western Australia. His parents were Welsh and emigrated from Cardiff to Australia. Rolf Harris was a student at Perth Modern School from 1943 to 1947 and gained a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Australia. He has lived in the United Kingdom since 1953. He lived in Bray, Berkshire, England until he was sent to prison. He has been married to Welsh sculptress and jeweller Alwen Hughes since 1958. They have a daughter, Bindi (born 1964).[3]

Career[change | change source]

Harris began his television career on the BBC in 1953. He is best known for his art television shows such as Rolfin bed, Rolf's Cartoon Club and Animal Hospital. In 2005, he painted an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in his bed. His best known songs are "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" (1957) and "Jake the Peg" (1965). He also appeared on children's show The Wiggles on their It's a Wiggly Wiggly World! video in 2000 with his song "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" which was also once a major hit in Australia, the UK and the US.

Crimes[change | change source]

In 2013, Harris was arrested under Operation Yewtree, which was set up to investigate complaints of sexual assault by television personality and paedophile Jimmy Savile, who died on 29 October 2011. Harris appeared on advertisements for British Paints which is an Australian brand of paint. He no longer appears on these adverts.

Later that year, Harris was charged with twelve counts of having indecent assaulted girls aged 7 to 19 during the 1960s and 1980s. After his computer was seized by police, he was also charged with four counts of making indecent images of a child during 2012. Harris was interviewed and cautioned by police on November 2012. His trial was due to begin in London on 30 April 2014 but was postponed to 6 May 2014. He says he is innocent, denying all wrongdoing. He has also refused to speak to the media and his defence lawyer has said that he will plead not guilty to all of the charges. While awaiting trial on 15 January 2014 when he appeared in a London court with his family, supporters and his security guards, it was decided that Harris would be bailed to stay at his home with his wife until the time when trial starts. He was not allowed to go near anyone under 18 or to contact any of the witnesses. He denied any wrongdoing.[4] Harris' trial began at Southwark Crown Court on 6 May 2014.[5] At the trial it was revealed that Harris was a 'Jekyll and Hyde' character, whose immense talent and public generosity to children and animals hid a darker side - he was sexually attracted to young girls.[6] On 19 June 2014, the jury in the Rolf Harris trial retired to consider its verdict.[7] On 30 June 2014, Harris was found guilty on all 12 counts of indecent assault making him the second person to be convicted under Operation Yewtree after Max Clifford.[8][9] On 4 July 2014, Harris was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison and is currently incarcerated at HM Prison Wandsworth and later he will be transferred to HM Prison Littlehey.[10] The sentence was later referred to the Attorney General for England and Wales Dominic Grieve after complaints it was too lenient.[11] On 30 July 2014, the new Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, announced that he would not be referring the sentence to the court of appeal for review "as he did not think they would find it to be unduly lenient and increase it. The sentencing judge was bound by the maximum sentence in force at the time of the offending."[12]

Harris was stripped of his BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award after his conviction.[13] Alison Pink (now Steven George since a sex reassignment) who says that he was abused by Jimmy Savile while a woman said that he (then she) once witnessed Rolf Harris visiting Broadmoor Hospital with Savile and they turned up at a woman's ward just as patients were preparing to get undressed in the corridor.[14]

When Harris was convicted his hometown of Bassendean in Perth voted to remove his artwork from their council chambers and to strip him off his status as a Freeman of the town.[15] The Western Australian Department of Education confirmed that Perth Modern School would be removing all artwork by Rolf Harris from display following his criminal conviction.[16]

Harris was taken Bullingdon Prison in Oxfordshire, but was taken later to HM Prison Stafford in Stafford, Staffordshire after he was targeted and spat at by fellow inmates.[17][18].

On 1 August 2014, Harris had applied to appeal against his indecent assault conviction and his lawyers requested permission with the Court of Appeal but on 1 November 2014, Harris lost his first round of permission to appeal.[19][20]. On 1 December 2014, Harris dropped his bid to appeal the sentence, meaning that he will spend the next 2 and a half years in prison, and the next half will be a non-custodial.[21].

In 2012, he got an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and on 23 Feberuary 2015, it was rescinded by the Governor-General of Australia.[22][23]

In 2006, Harris was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). On 4 March 2015, it was taken away by the Queen.[24]

References[change | change source]

  1. Sweet, Corinne. (7 February 2003). "Interview: Bindi Harris". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  2. Miranda, Charles. (1 July 2014). "Bindi Nicholls’ disillusioned by father Rolf Harris: ‘I had him on a pedestal and now I can see him as a man’". "". Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  3. Hill, Amelia (1 January 2006). "Wizard of Oz". The Observer. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  4. "Rolf Harris trial set to start on May 6". Maidenhead Advertiser. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  5. Williams, Philip (15 January 2014). "Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris denies sex charges in UK court". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  6. "Rolf Harris: Court told of darker side". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  7. Miller, Nick (19 June 2014). "Rolf Harris trial: Jury retires to consider its verdict". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  8. "Rolf Harris found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault against four girls by London jury". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 1 July 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  9. Rolf Harris guilty of child sex abuse
  10. Harris sentence
  11. Rolf Harris latest: 'unduly lenient' sentence referred to Attorney General
  12. Rolf Harris: Entertainer's sentence will not be increased despite British attorney-general's complaints
  13. Rolf Harris will be stripped of BAFTA Fellowship Award and could lose CBE from Queen
  14. Rolf Harris 'visited Broadmoor hospital with Jimmy Savile'
  15. Town of Bassendean councillors vote to remove Rolf Harris’ paintings, plaque and his status as a town freeman at closed meeting
  16. [1]
  17. [2]
  18. ‘Taunted’ Rolf Harris moved from HMP Bullingdon to Stafford jail
  19. [3]
  20. [4]
  21. Rolf Harris abandons appeal of conviction for assaulting four girls in Britain
  22. Giselle Wakatama (23 February 2015). "Rolf Harris stripped of OAM by the Governor-General". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  23. "Termination of appointments - Order of Australia". ComLaw. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  24. "Disgraced entertainer Rolf Harris stripped of CBE". BBC. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.

Other websites[change | change source]