Harris's portrait removed

Last updated 20:55 28/05/2014
Rolf Harris
Reuters
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Embattled entertainer Rolf Harris has had his portrait removed from the Town of Bassendean's council chambers, amid allegations of indecent assault against him.

Bassendean Mayor John Gangell told Fairfax Media the council had this week removed a framed photograph portrait of "the boy from Bassendean" from the council chambers and was considering withdrawing his honour of being named a freeman of the municipality, depending on the court's verdict.

"At this stage, the town has removed his portrait from the council chambers," Cr Gangell said on Wednesday afternoon.

"The council took the view that due to the allegations that have come out...and the fact that there has been enough evidence to charge him and take it to court, we thought it was inappropriate to have his portrait continuing to hang in the council chambers with the allegations pending."

The 84-year-old entertainer is charged with indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986. He faces 12 charges of indecently assaulting four girls and is on trial at the Southwark Crown Court in London.

Harris has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Cr Gangell said all of Harris's paintings in the Town of Bassendean art collection continued to be hung in council buildings but a decision about the future display of the artwork would be made depending on the outcome of the trial.

The collection includes a large mural of the Harris family's riverfront homestead in Bassendean where the singer was raised, which is displayed in the council's administration foyer.

Harris was bestowed the honour of becoming a freeman of the Town of Bassendean in 1979, as Western Australia celebrated its sesquicentenary (150th anniversary).

"As a free person of the town, we gave him the honour of being one of our distinctive representatives throughout the years. Every so often, the council will nominate someone to be a free person of the town and you become somewhat of an advocate for the town," Cr Gangell said.

He said just six people had been named a freeman of the council and each of their photographs were hung in the Bassendean council chambers until this week when Harris' was removed.

If Harris is found not guilty, the portrait may be reinstated, he said.

"As with any prominent trial that goes on, there is always discussion amongst the community and obviously council. There has been some discussion...but council is waiting until the conclusion and the verdict of the trial before making any further decisions," Cr Gangell said.

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In 1979, the council also opened the Rolf Harris Water Playground at the corner of Guildford Rd and Wilson St, Bassendean, naming the facility in his honour. The pool has since closed due to operational and maintenance reasons.

- WA Today

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