Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

'Lenient' Hall sentence challenged

Stuart Hall admitted the indecent assault of 13 girls

Disgraced veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall abused his celebrity status to indecently assault 13 young girls, according to a judge who jailed him for 15 months.

Hall, 83, directly exploited his role as a popular BBC presenter with a "genial personality" to target four of his victims while he assaulted another four on the pretence of giving elocution lessons to them at his home.

Sentencing him at Preston Crown Court, the Recorder of Preston Judge Anthony Russell QC said the public now knew there was "a darker side" to Hall which had been "hidden from view".

The length of the jail term, though, was criticised as "unduly lenient" by shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry, who urged Attorney General Dominic Grieve to look at the matter.

Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party, tweeted: "18 yrs offending & Stuart hall gets less than 18 months. Unduly Lenient Sentence. Attorney General must refer sentence to Court of Appeal."

Lawyers for some of the victims welcomed the sentence as a "strong and uncompromising message that abusers would not escape justice no matter how long ago the offences took place".

The former It's A Knockout presenter and Radio 5 Live football match summariser pleaded guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault in April. But he had earlier made a public pronouncement on the steps of a court, describing all the claims against him as "cruel, pernicious and spurious".

Judge Russell condemned Hall for choosing not to maintain a "dignified silence" and said that he added to the suffering of his victims by adopting that stance.

"It is clear from the victim statements that I have seen that your brazen attitude when first charged, and the public protests of your innocence, have added to the distress of some if not all of your victims," he said.

Hall, from Prestbury Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, was arrested and subsequently charged on December 5 last year with indecently assaulting three young girls. More women came forward as a result of publicity and Hall was rearrested before he later admitted sexual offences which took place from 1967 to 1987.

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