Calls for Harris to be stripped of honours

Rolf Harris’s reputation was left in tatters as police considered fresh allegations against him amid calls for tributes and honours to the disgraced entertainer to be removed.

Calls for Harris to be stripped of honours

After the 84-year-old’s unanimous conviction of 12 sex charges involving four women — most while they were under age — police said they will look at fresh allegations that were not part of his trial at Southwark Crown Court.

Dozens more alleged victims came forward during the trial, including several in Australia, and Scotland Yard has been in touch with police there. It is not yet clear whether they are pursuing any investigation in Harris’s home country.

Richard Scorer, abuse lawyer for Slater & Gordon who represent 176 victims of Jimmy Savile, said they had been contacted by “up to a dozen people” with allegations about Harris and were considering them carefully.

The 12 women are thought to be from the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

He said: “We back an over-arching inquiry into child abuse once those reports which are still outstanding are completed.

“What we have discovered in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal is just how deep child abuse in institutions ran and how some people were seemingly allowed to continue their sickening crimes unchallenged.

“It is therefore vital we do everything possible now to learn from the mistakes of the past and take this opportunity to toughen the laws around the protection of children and vulnerable adults in institutions.”

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless told ITV’s Good Morning Britain that the decision by Harris to feature in a child abuse prevention video called Kids Can Say No in the 1980s, had shown his “absolute hypocrisy”.

He said: “I think this illustrated the absolute hypocrisy of Rolf Harris, there is no excuse for him not understanding the nature of the crimes that he was committing, here is someone who is absolutely providing children with good advice about how to stay safe.”

He said Harris had commissioned an independent film company to make the video then asked the NSPCC about the accuracy of the messages in it.

“It shows the complete hypocrisy and the danger of sexual predators hiding in plain sight,” he added.

“It is extraordinary, it shows the brazen nature of the crimes and this sort of self-confidence that sexual predators can feel that they are almost above the law.”

Harris faces jail when he is sentenced on Friday for the offences, and his reputation is in ruins following his conviction.

The mayor of Perth in western Australia said the council was considering tearing up a plaque to Harris inlaid in the city’s St Georges Terrace, while there is growing pressure for the disgraced entertainer to be stripped of his honours from the Queen.

Harris has already had his Bafta fellowship, awarded two years ago, removed.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said he was “gutted and dismayed” by the news of the conviction, telling ABC radio: “I feel gutted and dismayed but it’s very important that we do everything we humanly can to protect vulnerable young people. Sexual abuse is an utterly abhorrent crime.

“It’s just sad and tragic that this person who was admired seems to have been a perpetrator.”

MP Simon Danczuk Rochdale, has called for the star’s honours to be revoked — Harris received an MBE in the 1960s, followed by an OBE a decade later, and a CBE in 2006.

Danczuk, who called for an “overarching” inquiry into historic child sex abuse, said: “I think the guy is an absolute disgrace and he is bringing the whole honours system into disrepute.”

A recommendation can be made by the Honours and Appointments Secretariat to the forfeiture committee to revoke an honour if a person has been found guilty of a criminal offence.

The decision to revoke an honour must be approved by the Queen.

Asked whether David Cameron believed Harris should be stripped of his CBE, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “Decisions around possible forfeitures are for the independent Forfeiture Committee. It would be a matter for them.”

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox