Rolf Harris returns to court on indecent assault charges

London: Members of the jury who will decide Rolf Harris’ guilt or innocence have been quizzed over any connection to Australia.

Harris attended a London court on Tuesday to face charges of indecent assault against four girls.

The 84-year-old Australian entertainer arrived at Southwark Crown Court with a small group of family and friends including his wife Alwen and daughter Bindi, flanked by a burly security detail.

He has also engaged a PR firm to deal with media attention during the trial, which could last for up to two months.

Harris faces 12 charges of indecent assault against four female victims aged 15, 14, and 7 or 8, alleged to have taken place between 1968 and 1986.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Tuesday’s hearing was for preliminary matters including jury selection.

Justice Sweeney told the pool of potential jurors they may be chosen to try Mr Harris.

“The defendant is charged with a number of offences of indecent assault, variously alleged to have taken place in the broad period between 1968 and 1986,” Justice Sweeney said.

“The evidence overall includes events in Australia and New Zealand."

Each potential juror was asked whether they had any close friend or family member who lived in Australia or was planning to visit during the trial. If so, they were eliminated from the list.

Several jurors were excused, including one whose sisters lived in Australia and another with best friends there.

The judge also warned them not to start researching the case on the internet, but to try the case based only on evidence given in court during the trial.

Harris took a lively interest in proceedings on Tuesday, listening to legal argument through a set of headphones to help him follow debate from inside a glass-enclosed dock. He nibbled on a packet of nuts to keep his energy up as the day dragged on.

His wife Alwen Hughes sat in the public gallery with a group of around ten friends and supporters. She has attended previous hearings in a wheelchair but walked into the court leaning on Harris’ arm, giving him a last kiss for good luck before the hearing got underway.

The prosecution is now expected to open its case on Thursday morning, UK time, and the first witness is due to take the stand on Monday next week.

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