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Harris either innocent or idiot, lawyer tells court

By Helen William

The jury in the indecent assault trial of former entertainer Rolf Harris has been told he is either an innocent man or an "idiot".

Harris denies four charges of indecent assault against three women between 1971 and 1983.

The 87-year-old Australia-born former TV star, who was freed from HMP Stafford last Friday, sat with a hearing loop in the dock at London's Southwark Crown Court.

Stephen Vullo QC, defending, said Harris was so certain of his innocence that throughout the investigation he wanted to find as many witnesses as possible.

Mr Vullo suggested two types of people would take this approach. He said: "(It is) a man who is innocent and knows he is innocent and knows that if a witness who is there with him on the day was found that she would be able to help him - or a total idiot because you would have to be a total idiot to ask for her to be found."

Harris is accused of groping a schoolgirl after he appeared in a broadcast of the BBC's Saturday Superstore in 1983. He is also alleged to have indecently touched a girl aged 14 in 1971 after she asked him for an autograph at a music event for children in London.

Harris is also accused of twice groping a third teenage girl after being paid £100 to appear on ITV celebrity show Star Games in 1978 and telling her she was "a little bit irresistible", the court heard.

Jurors have been told Harris had already been convicted and sentenced for other offences.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC earlier told the jury there was evidence of each alleged victim having stated Harris had assaulted them "before" his name had been linked to any offence. He described the alleged victims as "wholly independent of each other".

The hearing was adjourned until today.

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