No appeal over Rolf Harris sex offences sentence

Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris's sex offences sentence will not be referred to the Court of Appeal, despite 150 complaints over its "leniency", the attorney general's office has said.

The disgraced entertainer was jailed for five years and nine months for 12 indecent assaults on four girls.

Complaints were lodged following his sentencing earlier this month.

In a statement, the office said the attorney general understood the decision would cause disappointment.

It said Attorney General Jeremy Wright would not refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal as "he did not think they would find it to be unduly lenient and increase it".

'Just and proportionate'

The office said the judge had been required to take Harris's age into account.

"The sentencing judge was bound by the maximum sentence in force at the time of the offending," it added.

"The judge made some of the sentences consecutive to reach the total sentence, but he could not simply add up sentences on individual counts; the overall sentence had to be just and proportionate to the overall offending."

Rolf Harris with the Queen and Kylie Minogue at the Diamond Jubilee concert in June 2012 Harris painted a portrait of the Queen in 2005 and took part in her Diamond Jubilee concert seven years later
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What is the Unduly Lenient Sentence system?

By Clive Coleman, legal correspondent

The system for reviewing sentences passed in the Crown Court in England and Wales is an incredibly democratic one in which ordinary people can have a real effect on the working of the criminal justice system.

Anyone - whether connected with the case or not - can complain to the attorney general's office about a sentence being "unduly lenient", ie too low, and one single complaint is sufficient to trigger a review by the attorney general.

The system only applies to the most serious crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, some child sex crimes and child cruelty, serious fraud and drugs offences, and crimes committed because of someone's race or sex.

Any complaint must be made and the review carried out by the attorney general within 28 days of a sentence being passed.

He has no power to increase the sentence himself, but if he considers it unduly lenient, ie outside the reasonable range of sentences the sentencing judge had available based on the facts of the case, he can refer the case to the Court of Appeal.

It will decide whether to hear the case and if does, it will decide if the sentence is unduly lenient and should be increased.

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Harris, 84, was prosecuted in line with legislation in force during the period his offences were committed - when the maximum sentence for indecent assault was two years in prison, or five years for offences committed against victims under 13.

His offences took place between 1968 and 1986 against four girls aged seven or eight to 19.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed it has received "a number of allegations" about Harris since his conviction.

A spokesman said these further allegations were being considered.

Peter Saunders of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood said: "A lot of people have said to me that they think that Rolf Harris got a very lenient sentence.

"But whether he was sentenced to five years or 20 years in prison, it cannot make up for the lifetime of suffering experienced by his victims."

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