05:28PM, Thursday 12 January 2017
A phone call made to the NSPCC by a woman who alleges she was indecently assaulted by Rolf Harris was played on day two of the star's latest trial today.
The alleged victim contacted the children's charity in July 2014 as Harris, formerly of Bray, was awaiting sentencing following his first trial, where he was convicted of 12 counts of the offence.
She claims Harris put his hand up her skirt at an event in London in the seventies.
The new trial at Southwark Crown Court heard she explained to the call handler that the alleged incident had been on her mind 'for years', and how during the Jimmy Savile scandal she told colleagues and bosses she suspected Harris would be next.
Harris, who is appearing via videolink for age and health reasons, was slumped to one side in his chair wearing grey suit and light blue tie as he listened to the recording.
During the call the woman told the call handler that her friend had witnessed everything and ‘had never got over it’ and that she was subsequently unable to read or watch anything with Harris in.
However, when taking the stand later in the day, the friend said only: “I remember her being taken by the waist and sat on his knee, and I was glad it wasn’t me.”
She added: “You don’t want to sit on the knee of someone you just met, that’s why I remember, we were just young girls.”
In cross examination, defence barrister Stephen Vullo, QC, put it to the alleged victim that far from being ‘smirky’ and following her around, Harris, as a well known celebrity, was in fact just greeting and being pleasant with the other people in the room at the time.
“That’s possible”, she replied.
Referring to the NSPCC call, Mr Vullo suggested that far from being ‘unable to watch’ the TV or read any of the previous trial’s coverage, she had in fact been following it quite intently.
Mr Vullo said: “I wanted to ask if you read or watched anything or if you knew about the compensation Mr Harris was having to pay?”
The woman said it couldn’t be avoided as it was ‘everywhere’ and said she may have ‘glanced at a paper’.
The defence raised questions about the legitimacy of an autograph the alleged victim had from Harris, as the woman didn’t recall getting it despite saying she queued up for it before the alleged incident.
Asking the woman to look in a blue folder, Mr Vullo said: “I’m not saying you’ve seen this before, but it’s a page from the internet where you can buy Mr Harris’ signature. Are you quite sure the signature that you produced to the police is something you took from the theatre in 1971?”
“Yes”, she replied.
Mr Vullo then questioned why the woman failed to mention a family member who could back up her claims was also at the event.
He asked: “You've not airbrushed him out because he's not willing to support your allegations?”
“Not at all”, she said.
The defence also questioned whether the woman’s father was there on the day of the alleged incident, but another prosecution witness, a friend who was at the event on the day, said he had seen the alleged victim ‘with her parents and in a state of distress’ and that her father looked ‘angry’.
It was suggested in court that financial difficulties combined with coverage of the first trial may have provided a motive for the woman in making the accusations against Harris.
The woman denied the suggestion and replied: “No, I work full time.”
Harris faces seven fresh counts of indecent assault, and one alternate charge of sexual assault spanning a period of 30 years beginning in 1971.
One of the alleged victims was as young as 12, while the oldest was 42.
The trial continues.
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