Rolf Harris cleared at re-trial

Rolf Harris cleared at re-trial

Photo from Wikipedia

We had a quick look earlier this when Rolf Harris was acquitted of 3 charges of 7 historical sexual offences, with the jury being unable to agree on the remaining 4.

The full details of the accusations that he faced on this occasion (it seems that three were from the original trial with one new one) were not clear, but according to the BBC they were :

  • “groping a 14-year-old girl during a music event at the Lyceum Theatre in London in 1971”
  • two indecent assaults on the same teenager in 1978, during filming for ITV celebrity show Star Games.
  • touching the breast of a 13-year-old girl after filming BBC children’s TV programme Saturday Superstore in 1983

The failure of the jury to agree on these cases caused a re-trial in May 2017, during the course of which, unusually, Mr Harris appeared on video link at the start before being released from the sentence previously imposed on him half way through.

On 30th May 2017, the jury were discharged from giving a verdict, having been unable to agree on verdicts on any of the four counts.

This is unusual, but not unheard of (see our factsheet on it here). The general rule is that unless there are exceptional circumstances that is the end of the matter – the CPS will not seek another trial and the defendant is acquitted.

In this case, there were no exceptional circumstances (as the prosecution recognised) so that was the end of the road – not guilty verdicts were entered on the four remaining counts and Mr Harris was found not guilty.




  1. So he walks away claiming victory when the facts are some of the jury clearly believed him to be guilty how is that justice for the victim?

    • Because that’s exactly how the justice system works? The jury could not agree that he was guilty _beyond a reasonable doubt_, and as such he was acquitted. Indeed, as a result of that verdict, there is no ‘victim’ because no crime took place (in the eyes of the law).

      • Patrick see my response to [IR]RationalThought below I don’t want to waste time repeating myself.

  2. What he said (according to the BBC) was this:

    “I feel no sense of victory, only relief. I’m 87 years old, my wife is in ill health and we simply want to spend our remaining time together in peace.”

    So he did not claim victory.

    It’s been the practice since time immemorial (not just in sex cases) that after two juries disagree the Crown does not try again. I feel no sympathy for this man – not after the offences of which h was convicted earlier – but “some of the jury” is not enough. Ten are needed. It used to be all twelve.

    • What is it in him that evokes your sympathy Andrew. He may be old and frail now but at the time of the alleged offences as well as the ones he was convicted of he was powerful and had celebrity which he believed (and it did) make him untouchable. A hung jury is not a resounding endorsement of innocence. I’d like rape victims to have their own defence counsel and see what results that brings.

      • … perhaps you need to revisit your concept of how justice works. Innocent until proven guilty. These people are not ‘victims’ if they have failed to convince a jury. They are simply women who have made accusations.

        • So, thinking RationalThought’s arguments for one moment. Someone murders me – there I am dead as a Dodo. The killer is never caught therefore I am simply not a victim OR my murdered walks free because I’m a woman and he’s a bloke see R v Robert Rhodes [May 2017] therefore he’s innocent and I’m still not a victim. Seems to me you blokes have a very binary way of looking at crime and victimhood especially rape and we all know why that is don’t we fellas *winks.

          Yours in Sisterhood

          • [Moving from your first comment]

            In your example of being murdered, and the killer never being caught, you are of course still a victim of an unknown person.

            The difference in this case is that there is no doubt as to the identity of the suspect – as far as I have read, I can see no evidence of any of the claimants are suggesting that this is a case of mistaken identity.

            Either Mr Harris is guilty of committing these acts, or not guilty. As he is not guilty, and there is no possibility of a third party being involved, there are indeed no longer considered as victims.

            My argument has nothing whatsoever to do with the genders of any party – and as such I will leave your inflammatory comments untouched.

          • I have just come across this discussion while working on the latest twists to the Harris case. The point that needs to be made about an acquittal (even a unanimous one) is that it is not in itself a finding of innocence. It is a non-finding of guilt, so basically proves nothing. Sometimes the evidence that leads to D’s acquittal also leads to the conclusion that D must have been falsely accused, as in the recent case involving non-disclosure of the complainant’s emails and texts, but that is unusual, just as it is unusual for the judge to tell him that he ‘leaves this court without a stain on his character’. It was once thought to be the law that if D is acquitted of an alleged offence (crime X), the prosecution and courts would be obliged in any future case against him to accept that at least he did not commit ‘crime X’. This was sometimes called the “Sambasivam Rule”. I always argued that it was a misguided rule, and in the case of R v Z (previous acquittals) the House of Lords agreed with me. It meant that the jury at the 5th (?) trial of alleged rapist Nicholas Edwards could hear evidence from three or more of his previous [alleged] victims, even though the trials in their cases had each ended in his acquittal. Once the jury heard how many women had accused him over the years they were left with the task of deciding whether these women were ALL perjurers or whether he was indeed a serial rapist. It was an easy decision, I think. The sentence was life imprisonment.

  3. I hit Send too soon.

    As to 87 and bad health I was quoting his words to show that he did not claim victory.

    He may or may not have got away with these offences but he has just done the custodial half and started the licence half of a six year sentence to prove that he is not untouchable.

  4. Patrick you said “…Indeed, as a result of that verdict, there is no ‘victim’ because no crime took place (in the eyes of the law)…” Therefore when I am left murdered and the murderer is acquitted I am no longer a victim. Is that your argument – cos it bollocks.

    And exactly why acquitted rapists see Pacteau and Khatkar should not be allowed to hide behind the such nonsense as their acquittal meaning they did not rape and therefore their victim is not a victim when it’s patently clear that being unable to prove a rape (or any crime) to a criminal standard does not mean it did not happen or that the accused didn’t do it.

    And it only appears to be men who struggle with this fact and only when it comes to cases of rape and sexual assault and we all know why that is.

    Yours in sisterhood

    • The fallacy in your argument is this – if you were killed by someone, who the CPS saw fit to charge that person with murder, and that person was subsequently acquitted at trial, you _were not murdered_ and were therefore not a victim (of murder). You can call my argument bollocks all you like, but I don’t see your rebuttal…

      Failure to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt in fact does mean that, in the eyes of the law, it did not happen. Of course, mistakes happen, and there is sometimes a disconnect between judgement and objective truth (both for and against the accused) – but the purpose of law is to get that right as often as possible, which in the vast majority of cases it does.

      If you can suggest a better system of law with a greater chance of success, please feel free. The entire world should take note of such a revolutionary thought.

      • You don’t want to see it you mean… A murderer is acquitted in a court of law therefore the person who he murdered is not a victim. A rapist is acquitted in a court of law therefore the person he raped is not a victim in the eyes of the law. However victims do not become unraped or unmurdered whether or not the eyes of the law sees it that way or not such as the man who confirmed he had raped, as accused, but only admitted it after the statute of limitations had expired (US case). The crime remains.

        Can I suggest a better system of justice, yes, give rape victims their own defence team seen as how they are put on trial in everything but name. I’m happy for the entire world to adopt this and I won’t even copyright it, it’s my gift to womankind.

      • Patrick, please do not feed our resident troll.

        Any form of logical thought will be dismissed because there is only one truth and that is all men are rapists.

        Unless all contributions start from this perspective then they are not worthy of consideration.

        Please do not try to confuse the issue by talking sense.

        • Can anyone please try to explain to men, and dickheads like Captain Stupid, that women do not just have to agree with them. It’s a difficult concept for their ego to come to terms with but keep trying. Eventually they get it.

          Any logical person would know that putting your penis inside a woman (or man) without their freely given consent is wrong, is rape and no amount of fast talking and semantics “not a victim in the eyes of the law” for example – FFS changes that. And personal insults, in lieu of an acknowledgement of this won’t silence me and doesn’t it change it either.

          • No need for a fishing rod, just jump straight into the keep net. All too easy.

            By the way, the Harris cases above were nothing to do with rape, but that never stops you and your poisonous agenda.

  5. Liberte, Egalite Sororite actually does highlight some significant points – possibly unwittingly.

    Firstly, she does the very common human thing of combining various facts and/or general items. Rolf Harris was convicted therefore he is a rapist and every allegation against him must be true approach!

    Simplistic thinking is the first thing wrong with us as people and the justice system, in general.

    In historic sexual abuse cases the accepted practice of” innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt” does not appear to apply nor does a” fair trial” approach.

    So Liberte, Egalite Sororite example of been murdered and a victim of murder is excellent. In her example “the evidence of the actual crime exists/ There would be there physically. Starting with a dead body.
    With historical abuse as in all three trial’s of Rolf Harris – the crimes had no physical evidence that the alleged crime had ever taken place., so the stated example is excellent to highlight the significance difference between the two types of crime trials.

    As to the accused not found guilty of the murder only means there was no evidence to convict, meaning he did the murder and got away with it or someone else did the murder and not identified.
    In the historical sexual abuse cases. The problem is identifying who is the criminal. Rolf Harris because it did happen or the accuser for lying because either the story was made up i.e. a lie or it did happen and the accuser picked Rolf Harris as substitute to blame, thus the accuser is still the criminal in falsely accusing.

    So inadvertly for Liberte, Egalite Sororite she is really highlighting that in convictions in historical sex abuse trials it is highly possible the jury go it wrong because they are given the task of deciding if the “story teller” is telling the truth on no evidence.

    So a suggestion for a fairer trial is the decision maker, jury in Rolf Harris; case should give an open explanation how they reached their conclusion that the accuser is telling the truth because I have read many of these trials and I have no idea how anyone could tell how they received the truth or not.

    So I believe an evidence document should be created and that the appeal system should remember trials are run by people who are fallible thus a jury and court people all could be wrong. No one would be happy to have an operation or fly in an airplane if the same checking level was applied as between crown court and appeal court .

    • Rape is penetration without consent. Rape is wrong. The person who was raped is a rape victim. Absence of a conviction does not mean the victim was not raped.

      The [un]reasonable belief that the victim was consenting does not negate that rape happened. This so called reasonable belief in consent defence is just about the purest example of misogyny at work within a patriarchal society that creates structures to oppress women of which rape is one and ludicrous defences to justify rape its bastard child.

      The rape apologist, will work in any opportunity to talk of false accusations and conflate not guilty/not charged with false accusation as an attempt to derail, deflect and distract from the fact that rape is wrong. Putting your penis inside someone without their consent is rape. It is wrong.

      The rape apologist will use emotive language such as “story teller” to subtly undermine and distract from the fact that men rape, and that it is not rocket science that the person most likely to lie about rape is the rapist.

      The rape apologist appears to struggles with cognitive dissonance. He knows that rape is wrong and therefore it can only be carried out by monsters. Monsters who rape can be othered they are not normal. Nice men don’t rape he is a nice men and so on.

      Nice men do rape they use delusional belief in their powers of persuasion through non stop pressure, through badgering, sulking, and intimidation to coerce, cajole and bully women into having sex with them. And they can square it in their heads as romance and seduction because they’re a nice men not one of those monsters who would drag a woman off the streets and forcibly rape her. Absence of violence does not equal not rape.

      Faced with what they’ve done they need to find a way to justify their actions into something palatable to absolve themselves. This will include the unworthiness of the victim to be a victim – pick an sl word to dehumanise her, talk about the way she dressed, or her body “tits out” because a dehumanised woman cannot be raped. She is no victim because she’s not a human being. Whether she is a madonna or whore, well that is down to men to the patriarchy, the brotherhood to normal men to determine

      – the I’m against rape but… brigade
      – he shouldn’t have done it but…
      – red blooded man and so what did she expect…
      – she enjoyed it as much as I did really…

      Which brings us on to the morning after

      – it got a “a bit dirty” and now she regrets it… excuse of the “normal man” who would never rape a woman because he’s not a monster.

      Woman DO NOT regret consensual sex not ever no matter how dirty it gets. If it is said she regrets it what specifically did she regret and why. If she willingly consented she would not regret it. However if something happened to make her regret it for example she didn’t consent and the “normal man” continued anyway then it’s being raped she regrets.

      But men can’t accept this so cue invention of the fiction that it got dirty often said as though sexual intercourse is an entity in its own right rather than something that happens between actual human beings. And by the way if there is regret it is only ever at rubbish sex. More like man he’s shite in bed. NEXT.

      She’s after the money – oh please.

      Finally, I thought she was consenting. No you didn’t. You just wanted to ejaculate and the male sense of entitlement means that is more important than anything else on earth which is why we have a worldwide HIV pandemic courtesy of men but I digress.

      And no discussion of rape would be complete without the intellectual, pseudo-profundity, that presents itself as razor- sharp analysis but in fact is nothing more than a steaming pile of horseshit that refuses to accept that men rape, normal men rape, monster men rape, it’s what they do and they get away with it so frequently and so often that it might as well be legal.

      Yours in sisterhood

      • “Woman DO NOT regret consensual sex not ever no matter how dirty it gets.”

        “If she willingly consented she would not regret it.”

        Many abortions are carried out each year.

        Je ne regrette rien.

        Are they all attributed to rape ?

      • Thanks to the people for this blog. It is very helpful and informative.
        My personal stance in law and life, in general, when there is an accusation I am in the camp “pro evidence”. So I would be interested in how the justice system change be changed to ensure “fair trials” for “all parties” involved. For example, thiere is a law that a jury can convict, in England that is, on a single person’s word alone. This law contradicts “a fair tria”l yet I can not find anything on where “law contradicts itself” or individual practices/laws l destroy over riding laws / principles such as a “fair trial”.

        And the appeal system seems totally unfair in that it does not accept a mistake can happen and is thus controlled by a select few who appear to be unaccountable. These are some of my thoughts I would like tto see tackled on this blog or somewhere else.

        Liberte, Egalite Sororite highlighted R v Robert Rhodes [May 2017] case and the media reported evidence appears at first glance a slam dunk for the jury to convict. Yet the presentation of variou items seems to given the jury a reasonable doubt that the result was an unintended outcome of an domestic fight.the result been the husband ws found innocent of whatever murder/manslaughter charge/s was in play. The wife is of course still a victim but not of the said charges. As to the evidence clearly showing that it was an accident is not detailed but it still must of been very well investigated and presented for the jury to have pause for thought. My impression “only” in this case a fair trial did take place. The initial evidence highlighted that a murder had happen a slash across the the neck seems very conclusive, so a clear case for a trial and conviction. Yet the police did their job along with forensics plus the defence council did their job in presneting the case. And the jury accepted that it was not as it appeared based on the evidence.

        BUT my questions still remain for this blog that victims and the accused often do not get a fair trial, and the system fails them big time. There is “no reasonable” group/s to improve the justice system (The existing ones water down “fair trials” and water down decent practices and justice for most does not happen or more by accident than design). Then the system of checks fail as the appeal system is a joke, a sad joke.

        So as this is a piece on the acquittal of Rolf Harris in his last two trials. If anyone seriously takes a little bit of time to examine “evidence” in all three trials with the words “beyond reasonable doubt” and “fair trial” in their minds plus the fact that all people lie, are mistaken, exaggerate, can be befuddled and so on. Or can tell presisely and concisely present the truth. Then they may end up concluding as I have done is no Rolf Harris did not get a fair deal at all. And it is a disgrace to all including the real victims as well as the British people. His three trials highlights a lot of serious questions indeed.
        Why in historial sex cases does the justice system keep trying the same individaul over and over again when they are already serving a sentence?

        I have written this as I am not pro any particular “cause”, for or against rapist etc simply I am for “pro evidence” and “fair trials2. Fairness for ALL.
        (I actually want ALL real rapist caught and dealt with fairly and justly, of course, for sure)

      • “Woman DO NOT regret consensual sex not ever no matter how dirty it gets.” Really?
        That assertion smacks of dogma rather than an analysis of the evidence. It is clear that a significant number of false rape accusations are made (how many, we have no means of knowing) and regretting previously given consent does appear to be one of the more common reasons for it. In my line of work I encounter quite a few cases involving the offence of perverting the course of public justice (and sentencing policy for that offence). Many, perhaps most, reported cases on that offence appear to involve false accusations of rape or sexual assault. Pretending this doesn’t happen would be impossible because in many such cases the false accuser’s guilt is utterly clear, and in others it is frankly confessed to. Ask almost any barrister (man or woman) who prosecutes or defends such cases in the courts. Or ask Liam Allan

  6. Captain Stupid like all you men you spend oxygen and otherwise useless existences railing at women who condemn rape and male violence against women instead of tackling the men who do it. And that says it all.