Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris will appear in court next month after being charged with a string of child sex offences dating back more than three decades.
The 83-year-old is accused of nine indecent assaults between 1980 and 1986 relating to two alleged victims, who were aged between 14 and 16 at the time, the Crown Prosecution Service announced today.
He will also face four charges of making indecent images of a girl between March and July 2012.
Alison Saunders, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS London, said: “We have carefully considered the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police Service as part of Operation Yewtree in relation to Rolf Harris, who was initially arrested on November 29, 2012, over allegations of sexual offences. A file of evidence was passed to the CPS on August 12, 2013.
“Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Harris to be charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four of making indecent images of a child.
“The alleged indecent assaults date from 1980 to 1986 and relate to two complainants aged 14 and 15 at the time of the alleged offending.”
Harris will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 23.
The charges that he faces are:
Six counts of indecent assault relating to a girl aged between 15 and 16, from 1980 to 1981.
Three offences of indecent assault relating to a girl aged 14, in 1986.
Four offences of making indecent images of a child between March and July 2012.
Harris was interviewed under caution on November 29 last year, five days after a search warrant was executed at his Berkshire home. He was questioned as part of Operation Yewtree, the national police investigation sparked by allegations of abuse against DJ Jimmy Savile.
Harris was publicly named as a Yewtree suspect only in April, when the Sun newspaper became the first media outlet to identify him in connection with the investigation. The inquiry has been run in three strands, classed as claims involving Savile, those involving Savile and others, and those only involving others.
Harris is being dealt with under the “others” strand, meaning the allegations have no link to Savile. The Australian, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert last year, has been a family favourite for decades.
He had his first musical hit Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in 1960, and continued to enjoy success in the industry, gaining cult status in recent years and performing at Glastonbury festival several times.
He also proved popular as a television presenter, getting his first big break in 1967 when he began hosting his own BBC1 programme, The Rolf Harris Show, before moving on to children’s television in the 1980s and then to Animal Hospital, which he hosted from 1994 to 2004.
Harris, who has lived in Bray, Berkshire, for more than 50 years, was awarded an MBE in 1968, an OBE in 1977 and a CBE in 2006, and was made Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year.
Singer Vince Hill, who has known the Australian celebrity for more than 50 years, admitted he was lost for words over the scale of the charges.
He said: “I find this latest news incredibly unbelievable and just hope it all comes right for him and his family in the end. I’m absolutely devastated and cannot believe this has happened to my dear friend of 50 years.”
Earlier this week comedian Freddie Starr was re-bailed until October by Yewtree detectives investigating sexual offences. The 70-year-old was first arrested in November before being re-arrested in April when further allegations against him emerged. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.