TELEVISION and radio presenter Vanessa Feltz has described her shock at the “outpouring of misogyny and hatred” directed towards her on social media following her claim that Rolf Harris assaulted her during a live TV interview.
Feltz said the entertainer had attempted to touch her intimately while she interviewed him for the “On the Bed” section of Channel 4 show The Big Breakfast in May 1996. She said Harris’s wife, Alywn, was in the room at the time.
Feltz said: “After a few seconds, he had managed to get his hands inside the elastic of my knickers. I was absolutely staggered.”
Describing her thoughts at the time, she said: “If I don’t do anything and just sit still, this is going to end up exceptionally unpleasantly and I’m not prepared to sit here and that happen to me, no way.”
The presenter said she wanted to put her hand out to stop Harris, but because she was on live television, she was terrified of doing something that would upset children watching the show, “so I did something as a presenter you’re not allowed to do, which was I threw an unplanned commercial break”.
Last week, Harris, 84, was jailed for almost six years after being found guilty of 12 indecent assaults.
Feltz said she told had police about the alleged assault, but the judge at Harris’s trial ruled the evidence could not be admitted because defence lawyers had not been given enough time to consider it.
Feltz, who gave a newspaper interview about the incident after the trial, said she could not understand why her action had created “a storm of personal insults and hatred and bile”.
“If people react like that, you can see why people don’t come forward,” she said. “I’m 52 and I can handle myself, so imagine if I was a seven-year-old child, or 12 or 17. I’m not saying just if it’s someone famous, but imagine if it was your dad, uncle or teacher.
“The kind of reaction I have had, I found so upsetting.”
Singer Linda Nolan, 55, has described being groped by Harris in 1975.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said police did not comment on the identity of alleged victims of sex assaults.