UK

Rolf Harris: Woman says assault claim 'not for cash'

Rolf Harris Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

A woman accusing Rolf Harris of groping her when she was a teenager denies she made the claim for compensation.

The Australia-born entertainer is on trial at Southwark Crown Court on four charges of indecent assault against three teenagers between 1971 and 1983.

Giving evidence, one of his alleged victims said she had not come forward for money but for "justice".

Mr Harris, 87, who appeared in person for the first time after being released from prison, denies the charges.

He had been participating via video-link beforehand, but was released from HMP Stafford on Friday morning.

On Monday morning, he arrived 90 minutes before the court appearance, accompanied by his niece Jenny Harris.

He wore a hearing loop as one of his alleged victims gave evidence to the court via video-link.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rolf Harris with his niece, Jenny Harris

The woman, who was 13 at the time of the alleged incident, claimed Mr Harris groped her after he appeared on the BBC's Saturday Superstore in 1983.

She came forward with her allegation in July 2014 and the court heard she made her official complaint the same day the Daily Star website ran a piece with the headline "Victims of Rolf Harris to receive £200,000 in compensation".

She said she had not been aware of the headline as she was "not really a Daily Star reader".

Asked why she waited so long to come forward, she said: "Because it is quite a decision to make, to come forward when you haven't been believed by members of your own family and others... it takes a while to make a decision to come forward and talk to the police."

Asked whether she had made a claim for compensation, she said: "No, I have not and I don't intend to. It's not about that. It's been about vindication and justice."

She added: "I don't understand how anyone would want to profit from something like this."

She said that going to the police had been "probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life", adding: "It's been horrendous."

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Court sketch of Rolf Harris in the dock while a witness gives evidence

The alleged victim's husband also told the court that compensation had not been his wife's aim.

He said he first became aware of what his wife was claiming when she shouted "pervert" at the TV when Mr Harris came on some time before the year 2000.

He was then "shocked" as she outlined her claims about the entertainer.

Asked whether he and his wife "cooked this up between you, saw an opportunity, saw pound signs in your eyes" before going after Mr Harris, he replied: "No, she said from the start she did not want compensation."

Mr Harris' defence lawyer, Stephen Vullo QC, told the court the TV star was joking when he allegedly asked the girl if she often got molested on a Saturday morning.

Mr Vullo asked the witness: "So it's clear, I don't dispute on Mr Harris's behalf he may have said something to you along the lines of 'do you like to be molested on a Saturday morning?' or something like that.

"But he would have said that in a jokey fashion while maybe marching you up and down the corridor?"

She replied: "No, absolutely not."

She added: "I fail to see, whether it is said to a group or a single child, how that can be misconstrued as a joke in any way."

The jurors have previously been told that Mr Harris was convicted and sentenced for other offences in 2014.

The trial continues.