Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

TV's Hall in court on sex charges

Stuart Hall has been accused of a string of historic sex offences

Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has made his first Crown Court appearance accused of a string of historic sex offences.

He spoke only to confirm his name in an eight-minute preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court's Sessions House Grade II listed Edwardian Baroque-style building.

The case was adjourned until April 16 when the defendant is expected to enter formal pleas to the charges. A provisional trial date of October 2 was set, estimated to last up to four weeks.

Hall, 83, is charged with one count of rape and 14 offences of indecent assault. He is alleged to have raped a 22-year-old woman in 1976 and the 14 other alleged sexual assaults relate to 10 girls aged between nine and 16, between 1967 and 1986. In addition, Hall had earlier been charged with three separate indecent assaults of young girls - aged nine, 13 and 16 - dating between 1974 and 1984, which he also denies.

All the allegations he faces will be dealt with together at the plea and case management hearing on April 16.

Last month the former It's A Knockout presenter said he might have considered suicide had it not been for his family, after leaving an earlier hearing at Preston Magistrates' Court.

He described the accusations as "pernicious, callous, cruel and, above all, spurious" and vowed to clear his name and restore his reputation.

Hall, of Prestbury Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century and was last year awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours. His eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.

In court on Friday, unsteady on his feet and wearing a dark blue suit, he entered the dock at Sessions House before the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC.

He confirmed with the clerk that his name was James Stuart Hall. Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, outlined administrative matters as an alternative plea date of May 2 was pencilled in if court papers were not ready.

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