Rolf Harris trial update: ‘I didn’t think sexual activity with a 13 year old was a criminal offence’

Rolf Harris has admitted that he 'didn't know' that sexual activity with young teenagers was illegal during his trial


by Kayleigh Dray |
Published on

Beginning his prosecution cross-examination at Southwark crown court, Rolf Harris has admitted that he - and many others - his secret affair shows he has a 'dark side'.

"I don't think people knew much about that at the time"

Sasha Wass QC, for the prosecution, said: "This case is about whether, under your friendly and loveable exterior, there is a darker side lurking. You know that, don't you?"

He replied, when asked whether or not there were different sides to his personality: "I suppose so."

She then asked, referring to the fact he kept the relationship, which he says lasted 11 years, secret from his wife and family for so long: "You are pretty good, Mr Harris, aren't you, at disguising that dark side of your character?"

He replied: "Yes."

The alleged abuse victim, a friend of Harris's daughter, Bindi, has told the court the Australian-born entertainer, now 84, sexually abused her from the age of 13, and that their sexual contact continued intermittently until she was 29.

Rolf Harris supported by his wife and daughter as he attends trial
Rolf Harris supported by his wife and daughter as he attends trial

Harris, however, insists the first sexual contact was at 18, beginning when she was staying at his family house.

Wass asked Harris if the truth was that the case was about child abuse and grooming. He replied: "That's your case."

Questioned about a time in the 1990s when the alleged victim's family confronted him over the alleged abuse, Wass put it to Harris that it never occurred to him he could face police action over accusations he had groped a girl of 13.

"I didn't think of that at the time, no," he replied. Pressed by Wass on whether he knew at the time that sexual activity with a child was illegal, Harris said he wasn't clear on the issue then.

Wass: "You didn't think that if you were accused of having a sexual relationship with a 13 year old girl that constituted a criminal offence?"

Rolf Harris: "I didn't think of that at the time"

Wass: "In 1997 you don't think people knew about people assaulting 13 year olds being a criminal offence".

Rolf: "I don't think so"

Rolf Harris and wife Alwen

Harris was later asked to describe the relationship, which saw him and the alleged victim have around eight incidents of sexual activity in about 11 years, according to his version of events.

He said: "It was a flirtatious thing which developed. They were very isolated occasions.

"It stemmed from a feeling of love and friendship as far as I was concerned."

Ms Wass asked whether complimenting the then 13-year-old on her appearance in a bathing suit had been a "sexual remark".

"In hindsight I suppose it is", he replied.

Mr Harris denied assaulting the alleged victim during a holiday, telling the court: "It never happened."

And he disputed an account from the mother of the alleged victim that he had visited the family home, without his daughter being there.

"Didn't happen", he said.

Harris, who lives in Bray, Berkshire, denies 12 counts of indecent assault. The trial continues.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us