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Rolf Harris to face retrial on indecent assault charges

Rolf Harris will will be released on bail as he faces groping charges.

Rolf Harris will will be released on bail as he faces groping charges. Photo: AAP

Rolf Harris will face a new trial in May on three charges of indecent assault, after a London jury last week failed to reach a verdict.

Prosecuting lawyer Julia Walker revealed on Wednesday a retrial was sought on three of the four undecided counts, plus a new charge related to one of the complainants.

Rolf Harris

A court artist sketch of Rolf Harris in court last week. Photo: AAP

In Southwark Crown Court last week the jury acquitted the 86-year-old entertainer of three groping charges after a week of deliberation, but the jurors were discharged by Judge Alistair McCreath from further discussion on four undecided counts.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said they had decided to seek a retrial “after careful consideration”.

“This decision was taken after consideration of all the matters set out in our legal guidance on seeking re-trials when a jury has failed to agree on a verdict,” he said.

“The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Rolf Harris remain active and that he has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

Faure Walker told the judge that retrial was not sought on one charge in which Harris was alleged to have rubbed the bare back of a 19-year-old singer below her crop top and made lewd comments to her at a band rehearsal in 2002.

But she said the prosecution was laying an extra charge in the case of a woman who alleges Harris groped her at a celebrity sports event in Cambridge in 1978 when she was 16.

When asked how he pleaded on the extra charge, Harris, wearing a dark suit and tie and appearing by video-link from Stafford Prison, replied, “not guilty”.

Harris was cleared last week of three charges: indecently assaulting a young autograph hunter while she was on a visit to a Portsmouth radio station with her mother at the end of the 1970s; groping a blind, disabled woman at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London in 1977; and sexually assaulting a woman in her 40s after the filming of a TV show in 2004.

The three undecided charges include groping a 14-year-old at a music festival in 1971, a 16-year-old at a celebrity game show in Cambridge in 1978, and a 13-year-old at a BBC TV show in 1983.

Harris is serving time in Stafford Prison after being found guilty in a 2014 trial of 12 charges of indecently assaulting girls.

His defence team claimed the jury in the first trial had “got it wrong” and that the media frenzy had “without doubt made him vulnerable to people making accusations against him”.

The retrial is expected to begin on May 15.

-with AAP

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