Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Stuart Hall's sex abuse secret

Stuart Hall had previously denied  any wrongdoing
Stuart Hall had previously denied any wrongdoing
Stuart Hall has now pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting 13 girls aged between nine and 17
Stuart Hall has now pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting 13 girls aged between nine and 17

The guilty pleas of Stuart Hall came as a surprise given his previous vociferous public denials of any wrongdoing.

Two months earlier he told the country the then allegations he had committed historic sexual offences against a number of young girls were "pernicious", "callous", "cruel" and "spurious".

Those well-chosen words were replaced by a simple answer of "guilty" when the majority of the same claims were put to him by the clerk at Preston Crown Court last month.

Following his arrest on December 5 and when he was charged later the same day with three counts of indecent assault, Hall, 83, was quick to use the media to protest his innocence.

A statement from his solicitor was issued which read: "Stuart Hall is innocent of these charges. He is unable to comment further at this stage.

"It is a matter of concern that in the week following publication of the Leveson Report there appears to have been systematic, measured leaks to the media which have given a misleading impression of what this case is about.

"Stuart Hall was not afforded the opportunity to attend voluntarily at the police station. In due course the decision that he should be arrested will be the subject of some scrutiny.

"Stuart Hall is innocent. There will be a trial and his defence will then be in the public domain."

The stance continued when he made his first appearance in a courtroom in January.

Appearing at Preston Magistrates' Court, he was asked if he understood the charges and if he wanted to enter a plea.

He replied: "Yes I do. Not guilty to all three charges."

Hall was subsequently charged with further counts of historic child sex abuse and the rape of a 22-year-old woman.

That meant another appearance at Preston Magistrates' Court for the case to be formally sent to the city's crown court.

 

Hall - the charmer who had a guilty secret

When national treasure and broadcasting legend Stuart Hall was asked about the news he was to be honoured with an OBE, he responded with his trademark booming laughter.

The stories flowed and, with "a goblet of Keats" and "a tincture of Oscar Wilde", the radio raconteur recounted numerous tales from a career spanning half a century.

It was a career which saw him not only become an established sports radio reporter and broadcasting maverick but also a television star, thanks to madcap gameshow It's A Knockout.

But dropped into the middle of all the tales of television and radio times past was a throwaway comment which now appears both revealing and sinister following the revelations that he sexually abused girls.

Hall said: "My first reporting job was Sheffield Wednesday versus Leicester City and when I went along to Hillsborough it was shrouded in fog."

Hall, adopting his broadcasting voice, continued: "The score was ... Sheffield Wednesday 4, Leicester Fosse 4.

"I didn't see a goal! I described them all in greatest detail. I didn't see ... nobody saw a thing. It was fog-bound."

Then, he added: "But I just lied my way through it and I have been inventing stories ever since."

Hall, then 82, spoke proudly of his achievements, his career and his impending meeting with the Queen after his OBE was announced in December 2011.

Talking in the kitchen of his detached house in affluent Prestbury, east Cheshire, Hall, wearing an open-necked striped shirt, was welcoming and keen to speak.

His home was immaculate and his study and hallway housed a large collection of antique clocks.

On the wall behind him in the kitchen were numerous gold-framed black and white photographs of great sporting moments and no doubt significant moments in his own career.

Asked how he felt about the OBE, he was quick to mention his worldwide fanbase.

He said: "I am very proud that I have made a contribution, it's been acknowledged and lots of people around the world will be very pleased, as my family is and I am too. Very, very pleased indeed."

Did Hall think, all those years ago when he started out, that he would end up as a "national treasure"?

Modestly, a "humble" Hall said that was one thing you "never think about" when doing a job like his.

"If it's acknowledged you are very lucky because lots and lots of people do great jobs throughout the world and receive no acknowledgment, so for a humble guy like me - Hadfield born and bred - to receive an honour is a great accolade."

Hall, who also ran his own travel business for many years, became a familiar figure to viewers of regional news programmes on the BBC with Look North, Look North West and North West Tonight, as well as ITV, when he switched to rival Granada Reports.

He was also the launch host of BBC quiz A Question Of Sport during its early days as a regional show.

The broadcaster was renowned for his verbose and theatrical football commentary.

He famously described a performance by Manchester City's Georgi Kinkladze as, "Tippy-toed. Tumultuous. Only one word will suffice - terpsichorean."

In 2009, the BBC hosted a celebration at the City Of Manchester Stadium to mark not only the 50th anniversary of his broadcasting career but his 80th birthday.

Among the friends who contributed were football legend Graeme Souness and stars of yesteryear from his beloved Manchester City, Mike Summerbee and Francis Lee.

His career might not have been over then, but it certainly is now.

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