Rolf Harris pleads not guilty to sex charges

NICK MILLER
Last updated 08:01 15/01/2014
Rolf Harris
Getty Images
DENYING CHARGES: Entertainer Rolf Harris (left) arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London with security guards, before entering a not guilty plea on sexual assault charges.

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Australian entertainer Rolf Harris has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of sexual assault.

He appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London before Justice Sweeney.

Harris - dressed in a blue suit and red tie - was accompanied by a small gathering of family and friends - plus a security detail of men in grey suits.

The 83-year-old, appearing relaxed and in better health than his last court appearance in September, answered with a loud and clear ''not guilty'' as each of the indecent assault charges was read to him in the packed courtroom.

The alleged assaults took place between 1968 and 1986. One girl was aged 7 or 8, the others 14, 15 and 19.

He has not yet been asked to plead on four counts of obtaining indecent images.

Minutes before the hearing Harris hummed a tune to himself as he pushed his wife Alwen's wheelchair through the court corridors. His daughter Bindi was also there.

In August, Harris was charged with nine counts of indecent assault.

Last month prosecutors said they had added another three assault counts, two relating to two new complainants.

His lawyer indicated in court in September he intended to plead not guilty to the initial 13 allegations.

The allegations were investigated as part of Operation Yewtree, launched after the Jimmy Savile scandal, however they are not linked to Savile.

Harris is on bail on condition he does not contact witnesses, lives at home in Berkshire and does not spend time with anyone under 18 without adult supervision.

He is expected to attend at least two more hearings before his trial is scheduled to begin.

The veteran entertainer made no comment to reporters after the  hearing as he passed a huge media scrum assembled behind barricades in front of the court.

He has not commented on the allegations since he was first named  in the press in April.

Harris, who painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and  performed at her Diamond Jubilee concert last year, has been in the public eye for decades.

He had his first musical hit Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport in  1960, and continued to enjoy success in the industry as well as  forging a television career.

Harris has also received a number of honours and was made Officer of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honours  in 2012.

- Agencies

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