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Harris has been publicly humiliated, sex trial told

Rolf Harriss reputation is trashed no matter the verdict. Picture: Getty

Rolf Harriss reputation is trashed no matter the verdict. Picture: Getty

  • by MARGARET DAVIS
 

Rolf Harris’s reputation has been “trashed” and he has been punished for past infidelity with “public humiliation” during his indecent assault trial, a court has heard.

Giving the closing speech in the veteran entertainer’s defence yesterday, barrister Simon Ray claimed the prosecution had resorted to “name calling” because the evidence fell short of the standard of criminal proof.

He told jurors: “One thing is certain, Mr Harris’ reputation has effectively been trashed and will never be the same again. It may be that your own childhood memories have been altered.

“But after all of that, when you take a step back, have the prosecution come close to satisfying you so that you are sure he is guilty of any of this?

“You may conclude quite properly that they have fallen a long way short of that and, ultimately, that is the only decision that counts.”

Harris, standing trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court, is accused of 12 counts of indecent assault between 1968 and 1986, all of which he denies.

Mr Ray, who stepped in to give the closing speech because Harris’s QC, Sonia Woodley, is ill, told jurors: “Making allegations loudly and forcefully does not make them true.

“You may think that a prosecutor who was more confident of the evidence would not have had to resort to name-calling of the defendant.

“The reality is that when you take a cold hard look at the prosecution case, there are problems that cannot be pushed aside.”

He said those issues created “unavoidable doubt” over the truth of the claims.

The court heard that the time lapse since the alleged assaults is a “serious disadvantage” for the entertainer.

“The passage of time, which is a gap of up to 45 years, is a serious disadvantage to the defendant, and that would be true whether he was rich or poor, famous or unknown,” Mr Ray said.

He told the jury of six men and six women that Harris faced an impossible situation trying to remember details from so long ago.

“Mr Harris can’t really win. If he fails to remember things, any incorrect assertions by him are damned as deliberate lies. If he does remember details and tries to say so, again that’s dismissed.”

During the trial, the court has heard details of two extra-marital affairs Harris was involved in, including one with an alleged victim.

Mr Ray said: “He has been punished for his infidelity by, effectively, public humiliation.”

Jurors have been told by prosecutor Sasha Wass QC that Harris had “a dark side” to his personality.

Mr Ray said: “Everyone has a private life, everyone has a side to their personality that they only reveal to those that know them intimately, and, to be honest, maybe not anyone.”

He went on: “You have heard that he has done things in his 84 years that he is ashamed of or regrets.

“Destroying Mr Harris’s good name seems to have been essential to the prosecution case.”

He said the jury must assess whether Harris can be viewed as “a sinister pervert”.

The first count on the indictment concerns an allegation by a woman who claims Harris groped her at an event near 
Portsmouth between 1968 and 1970.

Mr Ray said: “The reality is that there is no evidence from any independent source that the event that [the alleged victim] described took place.”

The alleged victim in the second count claims that Harris touched her bottom when she was waitressing at a celebrity event in Cambridge in 1975 – although it was later suggested that this could have occurred in 1978.

Mr Ray told the jury: “Was she 13 or was she 16? Those three years for a teenager are a real and significant difference, and not one that you would get wrong.”

Harris told the jury that he had not visited the city until 2010 but was later forced to admit that he had appeared in an episode of Star Games filmed there in 1978.

The jury is due to return today.

 
 
 

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