Harris ‘admired bikini girl in a sexual way’

ROLF Harris admitted yesterday that he admired a 13-year-old friend of his daughter sexually while on holiday.

Rolf Harris arrives with his daughter Bindi at Southwark Crown Court. Picture: Reuters

The 84-year-old conceded that when he complimented the teenager on her bikini during the holiday in the 1970s, he was actually referring to her body.

Harris, who was cross-examined by prosecutor Sasha Wass QC during his second day in the witness box at his indecent assault trial, also admitted having a “darker side” behind his jovial public persona.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The star is accused of 12 counts of indecent assault against four alleged victims from 1968 to 1986, all of which he denies. Seven relate to the friend of his daughter, who claims he abused her from the age of 13.

Harris, who was supported by wife Alwen and other family members, sat in the witness box as he admitted that he might have complimented the girl’s bikini on holiday when she was 13.

Ms Wass put to him that bringing attention to her bikini was actually a comment on her body, and suggested he was admiring her sexually.

She asked: “Do you accept that when a man tells a woman or a girl that they look lovely in a bikini, they are not actually admiring the clothing, but they are admiring the person’s body?”

Harris replied: “Possibly.”

Ms Wass asked: “What you were saying is, ‘You have got a great body’.”

Harris replied: “I suppose so.”

The QC added: “When she was 13?” Harris answered: “Yes.”

Ms Wass said: “And you made it plain to [the alleged victim] on that holiday that you did admire her, admire her body?”

Harris answered: “On one occasion, possibly.”

The prosecutor added: “And you admired her sexually, that’s what that is.”

Harris answered: “It did not compute to that in my mind …in hindsight, I suppose it is.” Earlier, Harris said he knew that touching a 13-year-old was a criminal offence, but denied anything had happened.

Ms Wass described him as a “polished performer”, saying: “You’re pretty good, Mr Harris, aren’t you, at disguising that dark side of your character.”

Harris replied: “Yes.”

The prosecutor said: “This case is to decide whether underneath your friendly and loveable exterior there’s a darker side lurking. The issue we really have to fathom from this court is how dark that dark side really is.”

She said sexual encounters with his daughter’s friend were not consensual: “This was child abuse, grooming, and you effectively psychologically dominated that girl into womanhood.”

Harris has admitted having a relationship with the alleged victim, but insists it started when she was 18.

Ms Wass suggested to the defendant that after the holiday, the alleged victim had been “pretty much trained” by the entertainer. “I’m going to suggest that you have been pretty thorough in grooming her,” the QC said.

“No, it didn’t happen,” Harris replied.

The defendant confirmed he had taken part in an NSPCC campaign to raise awareness about child abuse.

Of a claim that he indecently assaulted the girl while his daughter Bindi was asleep in the same room, Harris said: “She said all sorts of things which if it wasn’t so serious would have been laughable.”

The entertainer told the court that his alleged victim had told Bindi about their affair while he was away in Australia. “When I came back she had smashed a couple of paintings that I had given her, she was furious.”

The case continues.