Hall cleared of 15 rape charges
Paedophile broadcaster Stuart Hall will be out of jail within the next two years after he was cleare d today of 15 counts of rape.
Hall, 84, faced a string of historical allegations made by two women who claimed they were sexually assaulted by him on various dates between 1976 and 1981 when they were aged between 12 and 16.
The former It's A Knockout presenter was convicted of indecently assaulting one of the complainants when she was under 16 and pleaded guilty at the beginning of his trial to another count of indecent assault on the same girl when she was 13.
But the jury of eight women and four men at Preston Crown Court found Hall not guilty of all the counts of rape he faced and also four other counts of indecent assault he had denied.
Hall did not give evidence at his trial but his defence team did not dispute that he had sexual intercourse with both complainants, including at two BBC television studios in Manchester, and argued that it was consensual.
The prosecution tried Hall under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, which applied at the time the offences were said to have taken place.
Last week, Hall's barrister Crispin Aylett QC was granted the unusual request to make an opening statement for the defence after the prosecution opened its case.
He told jurors that if Hall had been investigated for the offences at the time, he would have been guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 16, but that charge could not be brought retrospectively as there was a 12-month limit from the time of the offence when a complaint could be made.
Hall will be sentenced next Friday for two offences of indecent assault, for which he could receive a maximum of two years in jail on each count, but he will receive some credit for pleading guilty to one of the offences, which would lessen any term of imprisonment.
The charge he admitted related to an incident at a dinner party where he crept into the bedroom of his victim and assaulted her.
He was initially given a 15-month prison term last June after he admitted indecently assaulting 13 other young girls, aged between nine and 17, over a 20-year period.
But the Court of Appeal ruled the sentence was "inadequate" and it was doubled a month later.
The appeal judges were told that Hall was "not in particularly robust health" and could die in prison. The married father of two was stripped of his OBE for broadcasting and charity in the wake of his convictions.
The ex-BBC Radio 5 Live football match summariser was not due to be released from custody in Leyland, Lancashire, until September.
Hall made no reaction as the verdicts were delivered today and was then led from the dock but detectives and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers in court appeared ashen-faced.
Later, the CPS and Lancashire Constabulary said they respected the jury's verdicts.
Hall was taken from prison last October and was questioned about allegations from the two complainants who came forward after his conviction last year.
Both girls and their families were known to the defendant.
Hall, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, chose not to give evidence from the witness box as his defence team questioned whether the case was "a persecution" rather than a prosecution.
The broadcaster, who was then in his mid-40s, said the sex with the girls in their mid-teens was consensual.
Many of the encounters were at BBC television studios in Manchester - at Piccadilly and at Oxford Road - where Hall presented the corporation's regional news programme.
Hall's barrister Mr Aylett questioned why both girls would continually return to the BBC studios and suggested it was because they enjoyed the "charming" and "charismatic" company of the "larger-than-life" defendant.
He said the sexual activity was wrong but Hall was not a rapist.
Mr Aylett said one alleged rape said to have taken place in a stables when one of the complainants was aged about 12 did not happen and suggested the woman had a false memory of the incident.
The Crown said Hall was an "opportunistic predator" who plied the girls with alcohol and then took advantage of them sexually.
Last year, Preston Crown Court heard that Hall indecently assaulted a 15-year-old girl at the Oxford Road studios and also exploited his BBC connections to sexually exploit three other girls.
Although Hall was cleared of the rape charges, the trial has raised more questions about his behaviour at the BBC.
An investigation into Hall's conduct has been carried out by retired High Court judge Dame Linda Dobbs and her inquiry forms part of the Dame Janet Smith Review into the BBC's culture and practices during the years that Jimmy Savile worked at the corporation.
Dame Janet's review, which was commissioned by the BBC, is expected to be published next month.
A spokeswoman for the corporation said: " The BBC is appalled by the crimes of Stuart Hall. As we announced in June 2013, Dame Linda Dobbs would be leading a detailed investigation into Hall's conduct at the BBC. Her conclusions will be published as part of the Dame Janet Smith Review later this year."