Entertainer Rolf Harris cleared of three sex charges

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris arriving at Southwark Crown Court in London on July 4, 2014.
Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris arriving at Southwark Crown Court in London on July 4, 2014.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Veteran Australian entertainer Rolf Harris was on Wednesday (Feb 8) cleared of three sex offences by a London court, but the jury was discharged on four other counts after failing to reach a verdict.

Harris, a household name in Britain for more than 50 years, was accused of six counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault, taking place between 1971 and 2004.

The jury took almost a week to find the 86-year-old not guilty of two indecent assault charges and of sexual assault.

Harris was cleared of groping a blind disabled woman in London in 1977 and of sexually assaulting a woman in her 40s after the filming of a television show in 2004.

Judge Alistair McCreath discharged the 12-member jury on the remaining four counts, and the prosecution team have one week to decide if they will apply for a retrial on the charges that split jurors.

Harris watched via a video-link from prison, where he is currently serving a sentence of almost six years after being convicted in 2014 of 12 sex offences against four female victims, one aged as young as seven or eight.

His defence team claimed the initial convictions were "wrong" and that the resultant media coverage had "without doubt made him vulnerable to people making accusations against him".

After studying art in London, Harris found fame in the 1960s when he secured his own television show after landing work at the BBC.

He scored a chart hit with the 1969 track Two Little Boys, about two youngsters who grow up to fight in a war together, and performed his song Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport with the Beatles.

His success continued with the BBC's Animal Hospital in the 1990s and in 2005 he painted an 80th birthday portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.