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Woman accused of fabricaring Rolf Harris claims 'to get on compensation bandwagon'

PUBLISHED: 16:20 16 May 2017

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris. Laura Dale/PA Wire

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris. Laura Dale/PA Wire

The alleged victim told the trial he put his hand up her skirt at a 1971 music event for children in London

A woman who claims former Sydenham resident Rolf Harris groped her when she was a 14-year-old schoolgirl has been accused of fabricating the allegation to get on a “compensation bandwagon” from his multi-million pound fortune.

The alleged victim told the 87-year-old entertainer’s indecent assault trial he put his hand up her skirt at a 1971 music event for children in London, where he was making a guest appearance, after she asked for an autograph.

But Southwark Crown Court heard that she first went to the authorities by making two calls to the NSPCC on July 3 2014, after he had been convicted in a trial at the same court.

In the first call she said she had been touched inappropriately by Harris at the 1971 youth event, saying: “There was a guest appearance by Rolf Harris, I don’t need to say any more.”

During cross-examination, defence lawyer Stephen Vullo QC asked her: “Mr Harris had a trial in this court in May 2014. He was convicted on June 30 2014.

“Was there any reason you chose July 3 as the day to ring? He was due to be sentenced on July 4, the very next day.

“Were you aware of that being the case?”

When she said she couldn’t recall the date of the call, he asked if she had been in “a bit of a rush”, saying: “Were you concerned that you had to get your call in before the case finished?”

She said: “Not at all.”

Later, he asked if in the days before her call to the NSPCC she had read that people “were in line to take part of his £11 million fortune?”

She denied this, and he again pointed out she only came forward after he had been convicted, asking: “Is that because you saw the potential of a compensation bandwagon going by and thought you would jump on it?”

She replied: “No, not at all.”

The court heard on Tuesday that the woman’s brother, who had been at the Lyceum when it allegedly occurred, refused to back her allegation, despite being her only relative who was there still able to give evidence.

She told Mr Vullo she knew her brother had spoken to a private investigator hired by the defendant.

Mr Vullo said: “Is it not right that, up until giving evidence in January 2017, you were still leaving your brother out of your account?”

The woman replied: “I must have done, I don’t know why.

Mr Vullo asked: “He is the only member of your family who attended that day who is able to give evidence.

“You know that if you asked him for an account he would prove your account to be false, wouldn’t he?”

She replied: “No.”

Vullo went on: “You knew your brother was not prepared to assist the police, didn’t you?”

She said: “That’s his decision.”

Mr Vullo replied: “I’m going to suggest that is why you airbrushed him out of your story from the very beginning.

“You wouldn’t be happy if the defence or the police were to know that your brother had attended the Lyceum on that day.”

She replied: “Not at all. We were not that close in the early years. I didn’t mention him.”

Animal Hospital host Harris is standing trial accused of indecently assaulting three teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s.

He is also alleged to have touched a 13-year-old girl’s breast after filming a children’s TV programme and asked her “do you often get molested on a Saturday morning?”

He is seperately accused of twice groping a third girl, aged 16, 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.

He denies four charges of indecent assault.

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