UK

Stuart Hall Pleads Guilty To Indecently Assaulting 13 Girls, Youngest Aged Nine

02/05/2013 10:27 BST | Updated 03/05/2013 17:07 BST

Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has admitted indecently assaulting 13 girls, the youngest aged nine.

Hall, 83, entered the guilty pleas last month at Preston Crown Court but they can only be revealed on Thursday after reporting restrictions were lifted.

The sex offences took place between 1967 and 1986.

stuart hall

Stuart Hall arrives at Preston Crown Court

The former It’s A Knockout presenter was last year awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.

A BBC spokesperson said: "The BBC is appalled by the disgraceful actions of Stuart Hall and we would like to express our sympathy to his victims. We will continue to work with the police to assist them in this and any other inquiries they are making."

He had previously described the accusations as “pernicious, callous, cruel and, above all, spurious” and vowed to clear his name and restore his reputation.

But despite his vociferous public denials of any wrongdoing, Hall calmly and repeatedly answered "guilty" when the charges were put to him at the hearing on April 16.

The Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC, told him he would be required to sign the Sex Offenders Register. He was told a notice which he needed to fill in would be sent to his home in Cheshire within days..

A brief outline of the abuse suffered by three of his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was outlined at an earlier hearing at Preston Magistrates' Court.

In the 1980s Hall molested a nine-year-old girl by putting his hand up her clothing.

He also kissed a 13-year-old girl on the lips after he said to her: "People need to show thanks in other ways."

On another occasion in the 1970s he fondled the breast of a girl aged 16 or 17.

stuart hall

Hall has now pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting 13 girls

Hall was granted bail until his sentencing date on June 17.

Judge Russell told him that all sentencing options remain open including immediate custody.

Hall's barrister, Crispin Aylett QC, said: "The defendant is, of course, sorry for what he has done. Through me he wishes to apologise to his victims.

"He is not a man easily moved to self pity but he is only too aware his disgrace is complete."

An order made under Section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 was lifted on Thursday so that the pleas could be reported.

It was to avoid prejudicing a possible future trial on a count of rape and three separate counts of indecent assault which Hall had denied last month.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, said the Crown was satisfied those four counts could lie on file after it was given consideration at "the most senior level" of the Crown Prosecution Service.

The decision on the rape charge was met with the "full approval" of the complainant, he added.

Hall was described as an "opportunistic predator" by Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West.

Outside court he said: "We prosecuted Stuart Hall because the evidence of the victims clearly established a pattern of behaviour that was unlawful and for which no innocent explanation could be offered.

"His victims did not know each other and almost two decades separated the first and last assaults but almost all of the victims, including one who was only nine at the time of the assault, provided strikingly similar accounts.

Whether in public or private, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences and then bide his time until the victim was isolated. He can only be described as an opportunistic predator."

He added: "We have this week met with the woman who alleged that she had been raped by Stuart Hall, a charge which he has denied. The welfare of complainants is a top priority for us and we always take their concerns into account.

"In light of the guilty pleas already entered, the complainant no longer wishes to give evidence on the allegation of rape, and we have concluded that it would not be in the public interest to take steps to make her give evidence in court. As such, we will not be proceeding with this charge.

"I would like to thank the victims for having had the bravery to come forward.

"This case clearly shows that the victims of abuse will not be denied justice by the passage of time and abusers will be held to account."

Jon Brown, head of the NSPCC's sexual abuse programme, said: "These guilty pleas will hopefully encourage more victims of sexual abuse to come forward so they can finally get the justice they deserve. Even where allegations relate to the distant past they should be thoroughly investigated.

"Sexual abuse can scar children for life leaving them needing counselling to recover from their ordeal. It is only right they should know their abuser has been brought to account. If they can find the courage to speak out it will also help protect other children who otherwise may have become victims as well."

Hall was arrested and charged with three offences by Lancashire Constabulary on December 5 last year.

The BBC said at the time that the former It's A Knockout presenter, a regular football match summariser on Radio 5 Live, would not work for the corporation until the matter was resolved.

He was subsequently charged with historic sex offences against 10 more girls and the rape of a 22-year-old woman.

Following those allegations, Hall read out a strident condemnation to reporters in which he labelled the claims as "pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious".

He said he had endured "a living nightmare" and but for his "very loving family" may have considered taking his own life.

Hall's eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.

He also wrote a weekly sport column for the Radio Times magazine up until his arrest.