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Rolf Harris 'was fraternal to children and his fans'

By Jemma Crew

Rolf Harris embraced children and fans in a "fraternal or brotherly" way, his former tour manager has said.

Kenneth Jeacle, tour manager for Harris between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, was asked by prosecutor Jonathan Rees if he had ever seen Harris pull a young girl or boy onto his lap at an autograph session.

Speaking via video-link from Australia, he told Southwark Crown Court: "Sure I have, but not as you describe it. I have seen and witnessed Mr Harris conversing with children at the instigation of the minder at the time, parent or guardian, whatever.

"They would at times be encouraged by their parents to perhaps sit on his knee or perhaps give him a kiss on the cheek, or the parent would ask would he kiss the child, which he would always comply.

"But there were never, shall I say, incidents in my presence that Mr Harris would be the instigator of touching a child and or adult and draw him towards him. Mr Harris's attitude in these incidents was always that people would approach him.

"He would then perhaps open his arms and embrace them but in, shall I say, a fraternal or brotherly style or manner."

Asked by Stephen Vullo QC, defending, if he had ever seen Harris act inappropriately with his fans, he replied: "Categorically, never. Mr Harris was, in my presence, constantly respectful of children and parents alike."

Mr Vullo told the jury yesterday that the 87-year-old entertainer will not give evidence as part of his defence case.

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

The Australia-born former television star sat in the dock with a hearing aid for the second time since he was freed from HMP Stafford on Friday.

David Patience, for the defence, read out a list of statements from people who attended the three events the complainants allege they were assaulted at. Many of them denied seeing or hearing anybody upset or anything of concern taking place.

The trial continues.

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