Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris has denied deliberately lying to the jury in his indecent assault trial as new evidence emerged that he was in Cambridge in the 1970s, despite claiming he had never been there until recently.
Harris was accused by prosecutor Sasha Wass QC of deliberately misleading the jury by claiming he could not have assaulted an alleged victim at a celebrity event in Cambridge in the 1970s because he had not visited the city until three or four years ago.
The court was shown footage of TV game show Star Games, filmed in 1978 in Cambridge, in which Harris not only competed, but was also a team captain.
The 84-year-old told Southwark Crown Court that he had not deliberately lied, but had forgotten about the show until he was shown the video – which has been introduced to the trial as late evidence – and had also not actually known he was in Cambridge at the time it was filmed.
Jurors have heard that one of his alleged victims, then aged 14, claims he groped her bottom outside what she thought was a celebrity It’s a Knock Out event in Cambridge, describing him acting up for a crowd by barking at a dog before he grabbed her.
She believed the date to be around 1975.
The court previously heard there was no independent evidence to put Harris in Cambridge in 1975, and the artist told the court he could not have committed the offence as he had not been to the city until a few years ago. But the court heard that new evidence had emerged in the form of video footage of the 1978 Thames Television programme Star Games, filmed at Jesus Green in Cambridge, in which Harris took part as a team captain and also competed in a swimming race.
Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC suggested that Harris that he had deliberately lied to the jury. She said: “That video supports pretty much everything that [the alleged victim] said apart from the year, she has got the year wrong?”
He replied: “By three years, yes, she is out by three years.”
Ms Wass said: “But when you told the jury with such confidence last week on Tuesday that you had never been to Cambridge until four years ago, that was a deliberate lie, wasn’t it?”
He replied: “No, it wasn’t. I didn’t find out that I was in Cambridge until I saw the video played back and then at the very opening the voiceover introduced it over what I remember was a helicopter shot of the field.
“That was the first time I had heard the word Cambridge.”
He told the court the performers had probably gone in a bus or coach to the green and he would not necessarily have known where he was. Pressed further by the prosecutor, the entertainer said: “I’m doing hundreds of events during the year, going to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa.
“This was 36 years ago you’re talking about, 1978, not ’75 as you stated earlier.”
Ms Wass said: “I’m going to suggest that you are the one that has lied and that demonstrates it, and that there is no way you could have forgotten that event and you deliberately tried to mislead the jury when you told them that you had not been to Cambridge until four years ago.”
Harris said he had not deliberately lied, but it was a “lapse of memory”.
Ms Wass said that while Harris claimed his alleged victims were all making up their claims, the new evidence of the film showed that he had lied. Harris said: “I didn’t realise it was a lie, I had no recollection of being in Cambridge until I saw that video.”
Ms Wass said Harris “can’t have failed to know” that he was in Cambridge and told the entertainer: “The footage shows that you have lied during this case as you have lied about every other victim.”
He said: “No, not lying. I just had not remembered anything about it until I saw the video.”
Asked by his own barrister, Sonia Woodley QC, if he deliberately lied or misled the court, Harris said: “As far as I remembered, I had never been to Cambridge and, until I saw that opening couple of frames of that programme, I had no idea that programme was done in Cambridge.”