VETERAN broadcaster Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a girl ahead of his trial for a series of serious sex assaults.
The 84-year-old stood in the dock at Preston Crown Court and replied “guilty” when asked how he pleaded to the offence, which took place between January 26 1978 and January 1 1979.
The charge was an additional count added by the prosecution shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin.
He will go on trial later today accused of 20 other counts of sexual assault.
Hall, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and striped tie, was led into the dock in Courtroom Number 1 at 11.08pm, and the press benches were packed with more than 20 reporters.
He was asked by the clerk of the court to identify himself as James Stuart Hall and replied: “Yes, I am.”
Prosecutor Peter Wright then asked for the judge’s permission to amend the indictment and add the additional charge, count 21, to which Hall pleaded guilty.
Further preliminary legal matters are being dealt with before a jury is expected to be selected and the trial on the outstanding matters gets under way later today.
Hall sat with his legs crossed and his hands in his lap, listening to the legal discussions wearing a large pair of earphones so he can follow proceedings.
He is charged with seven counts of rape against one complainant between 1976 and 1978 in Manchester. Five of the rapes are said to have taken place when she was under the age of 16.
Hall is also accused of two counts of indecent assault against the woman within the same period.
In addition, he is charged with eight counts of rape and three indecent assaults against a second alleged victim between 1976 and 1981, at various locations in Greater Manchester and Cheshire.
One of those alleged rapes is said to have taken place when the complainant was under 13.
The former It’s A Knockout presenter has pleaded not guilty to all 20 allegations.
He has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century, and his eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.
The trial is estimated to last seven days.