Media flocks to first day of Rolf Harris trial

Media flocks to first day of Rolf Harris trial

Reporter:

Simon Meechan

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Media flocks to first day of Rolf Harris trial

Australian and British journalists packed Southwark Crown Court's press and public gallery for the opening day of TV celebrity Rolf Harris' trial.

Rolf Harris arrived at Southwark Crown Court this morning

Harris, who lives in Bray, is charged with 12 charges of indecent assault, on four girls aged between seven or eight and 19, between 1968 and 1986.

He denies all charges.

The Perth born entertainer arrived at Southwark Crown Court shortly after 9am this morning.

Minutes before 11am the 84-year-old walked into Courtroom Two accompanied by his wife, Alwen.

After taking his seat in the glass-walled dock Harris spoke only to confirm his name, as about 30 reporters  tapped away on their  laptops and phones and scribbled in their notebooks.

After retiring for lunch at 1pm, Harris arrived back in the courtroom just before 2pm, kissing his wife before settling back in the dock.

The former Animal Hospital presenter sat quietly as Mr Justice Sweeney whittled down 40 potential jurors to an initial panel.

Justice Sweeney told them: "You have been summoned to this court to take part as potential jurors in the selection of the jury panel, from which, hopefully, in the next day or two, the jury will be chosen to try the defendant, Rolf Harris.”

He said that serving on a jury is 'one of the most important duties that anyone can be called to perform' and warned them not to contact anyone connected to the case, or to research its background.

Mr Justice Sweeney explained that some of the evidence to be heard at the trial comes from Australia and New Zealand.

Consequently anyone who has regular contact with either country will be unable to sit on the panel.

He added that the jurors trying Harris 'must do so impartially' and their decisions are to be 'based only on the evidence given in court during the trial, and on absolutely nothing else'.

The trial is expected to get fully underway when the final 12 jurors  are chosen, and could run until Friday, June 27.

Photographers gather outside Southwark Crown Court ahead of Harris's appearance

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