Both Rolf Harris and his daughter Bindi have been accused of deliberately lying on oath, in the most passionate and heated day yet in the Australian entertainer’s sexual assault trial.
The day began with a dramatic twist, as a surprise find of old TV footage from the 1970s showed, prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said, that Harris had deliberately lied to the jury last week.
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Rolf Harris footage 'a blow to his credibility'
Rolf Harris said he was not in Cambridge in 1978. Footage played at his sexual assault trial shows otherwise.
And the afternoon saw a tense exchange between Ms Wass and Bindi Nicholls, nee Harris, which at one stage had Mr Justice Sweeney intervene with a stern “ladies, please!”
It was the second intervention by the judge, after he earlier told Bindi’s father to end his “verbal joust” with Ms Wass, and restrict himself to answering her questions.
Bindi also sobbed in the witness box as she recalled finding out about her father’s affair with the main complainant in the case – but she denied she had been told that Harris abused the complainant as a girl.
Harris has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges of indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986.
On Monday morning Ms Wass showed the jury and Rolf Harris the start of a one-hour TV program called Star Games shot in Cambridge in 1978, in which Harris led a team of celebrities through competitive events like running, climbing and swimming for charity.
His team included actors Colin Baker and Rula Lenska, and other teams – of actors, musicians and other celebrities of the time - included Davy Jones of the Monkees.
In the opening scenes Harris is hopping like a kangaroo to entertain the crowd.
Ms Wass said the video “supports pretty much everything” that one of the complainants had described about the surroundings when Harris sexually assaulted her.
But last week on the witness stand Harris claimed he had only visited Cambridge once “a couple of years ago” for an art exhibition – “that’s the first time I have ever been to Cambridge,” he said.
“That was a deliberate lie, wasn’t it,” Ms Wass said on Monday.
She said the complainant had not been clear about where she was at the time of the alleged assault and “you tried to take advantage of that and pull the wool over the jury’s eyes. That footage clearly shows you have lied.”
But Harris said it was just a “lapse of memory”. He said he remembered the event only when he was shown the footage late last week.
He said he hadn’t realised he was in Cambridge because he and the other celebrities had been shuttled there in a big coach.
“I don’t think any of us did,” he said.
The program’s host, Michael Aspel, in the first minute of the show welcomes viewers to Cambridge, saying it would be known as “the battle of Jesus Green”.
Asked how he could have forgotten the entire event, Harris said he was doing hundreds of events all around the world at the time, and it was 36 years ago.
Two weeks ago a 52-year old woman sobbed in court as she recalled being “groped” by Harris in Cambridge in the 1970s.
She remembered being 13 or 14, working as a waitress in Cambridge, helping out at a celebrity event in an area with “a lot of green grass” and with a big white marquee, which she said was “etched in my mind”.
A marquee is clearly visible in some of the Star Games footage, and the event took place on Jesus Green, a big public park in the centre of the university town.
Harris said the complainant, like all the other complainants, was lying about the sexual assaults. He said he could not think why they would be lying, and in one case was “as shocked as you must be” to hear their evidence.
Ms Wass said it was the prosecution case that Harris “had tailored your defence according to what the prosecution could prove".
Harris was also shown footage of him acting in an Australian TV show from the 1980s with, Ms Wass said, another witness in the case, Tony Porter, whom Harris had said he had no memory of.
Bindi Nicholls, 50, took the stand to talk about her relationship with the main complainant in the case – behind seven of the 12 charges – who was a childhood friend of hers.
The woman had given evidence that Harris, more than 30 years her senior, had abused her since the age of 13, grooming her into an adult sexual relationship that continued into her late 20s.
Bindi said her father was a distant figure in her youth – working a lot and “quiet at home”, preferring to read and work on his art, saving his extroverted antics for public appearances.
She said the complainant’s family were “yah yah” posh, but the girls were good friends. Bindi cried on the stand as she remembered being “devastated” when the Harrises moved away from her friend to the town of Bray in Berkshire.
She remembered going on holiday with the complainant in their early teens, where she said they “literally stuck together like glue” and she never saw anything inappropriate between her father and her friend.
Bindi said it was “ridiculous” that – as the complainant had said - her father had abused her friend in Bindi’s bedroom in Bray while she was there.
She even laughed at the suggestion.
But many years later her friend told her she had had an affair with her father.
At the time she suspected (and Harris confirmed in evidence) that her father was having an affair with a “spiritual healer” called Andy who was living in their house.
“She was all over him like a rash,” Bindi said. “I felt like it was a bit close for comfort… I was getting fed up with her being around and I wanted her to go.”
The complainant was visiting and swore about the lodger, saying “your dad’s a right bastard”, Bindi said.
“It felt like (my friend) was in love with my dad, which was weird. Then it was like a light went on in my head… I said ‘have you been seeing my dad?’ She said ‘yes’. I was really shocked and she was really shocked.
“It felt like the whole world had changed.”
At first she blamed her father and still saw her friend as a “saint”, Bindi said.
She cried in the stand, saying she stayed friends because “I didn’t want to lose everybody in one shot”.
She confronted her father and was angry with him at first, and so upset that she felt suicidal, but kept going for the sake of her son.
“How would you feel if your dad and (friend) were having an affair,” she said to Ms Wass.
But she later worked through her anger when she realised she had put him on a pedestal and “now I can see him as a father and as a man”.
Bindi said she had discussed the affair in counselling, but she refused to allow police to see notes from her counsellor – and again on the stand refused to give them to the prosecution.
Ms Wass suggested it was because the notes would reveal she had been told Harris had abused her friend, but Bindi said it was because they were “private”.
She said her friendship with the complainant had broken down after the woman moved in with an alcoholic and developed a drinking problem, which led to an angry physical confrontation.
In cross-examination, Ms Wass said “whatever went on between (the complainant) and your father, you didn’t have a clue.”
“Not at all,” Bindi replied.
“Whenever it began, age 13 or 18, it completely passed you by didn’t it.”
“Yes,” she said.
But Bindi said it was impossible that something had been going on between her friend and her father before the girl’s 16th birthday.
And she denied that her friend had told her it began when she was 13.
“Are you telling the truth?” Ms Wass said.
“Yes,” Bindi replied.
“Or are you coming in here to do your best to help your father?”
“No I am telling the truth… This is not about helping my father it’s about me telling the truth.”
Ms Wass several times accused Bindi of lying on details of the case that would have hurt her father’s defence.
“I am suggesting you and your father have colluded to give the same evidence,” Ms Wass said.
Bindi said it was not something she would sit down and talk to her father about.
“There’s no truth you are changing your evidence to support your father?” Wass asked.
“None whatsoever,” Bindi replied. “I am telling you the truth about what my experience has been in this lifetime.”
Bindi was read an email she sent to her father in 2012, asking him to make plans to pass on his £11 million fortune and asking him “how do you want to be remembered”.
But Bindi said the email was taken out of context, and it was part of an ongoing family discussion about her inheritance.
She said she came to court every day to support her parents.
“This is appalling for them,” she said. “I am frightened they are going to die in the middle of this court case.”
But she said she still loved the main complainant, her former childhood friend, “very much”.
The trial at Southwark Crown Court continues.