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Jury sworn in for abuse trial of TV star Rolf Harris

By Jemma Crew

A jury has been selected for the sex attack trial of entertainer Rolf Harris.

Harris is accused of indecently assaulting young girls over a period of more than 30 years.

His trial is expected to last around six weeks.

Wearing a dark suit and tie, the entertainer replied "I am, yes", when asked if he was Rolf Harris by Judge Alistair McCreath, as he appeared by video-link.

In December last year Judge McCreath ruled the television entertainer would not have to attend his trial in person because of his age and health.

Judge McCreath told jurors at Southwark Crown Court: "Finally we are waking up to the reality that we live in a digital world.

"We can very happily try Mr Harris without him having to be here. He is not a young man and it naturally makes a lot of sense for him to attend his trial remotely."

The Australian-born 86-year-old watched as a jury of five men and seven women were selected, with three reserves.

Jurors were warned against undertaking their own research, which could create a "dysfunctional, corrupt trial", Judge McCreath said.

Split into sections, the screen will show parts of the Southwark courtroom and the room where Harris will follow proceedings.

Witnesses will be hidden from Harris's view by screens, the court heard.

Harris has previously pleaded not guilty to seven counts of indecent assault and one alternative charge of sexual assault.

He is accused of attacking seven women and girls, one of whom was aged under 13, between 1971 and 2004.

Some of the offences were allegedly committed at the BBC Television Centre in west London.

Jurors were told the trial is likely to conclude around mid-February.

The Crown is expected to open its case tomorrow.

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