Rolf Harris trial: Entertainer caught sketching in court

Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London. The artist has been sketching in court - but that's been dealt to by the judge. Photo / AP
Veteran entertainer Rolf Harris arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London. The artist has been sketching in court - but that's been dealt to by the judge. Photo / AP

Even as he was being accused in a London court of numerous sexual assaults against young girls Rolf Harris was compelled to draw.

The celebrity artist has been making "the odd sketch" in the dock over the past fortnight when prosecution witnesses have been giving evidence in his child sex trial.

Read more of the Herald's coverage of the Rolf Harris trial:
Rolf Harris tells court of affair with alleged victim

Justice Nigel Sweeney on Tuesday revealed that a number of jurors had noticed the fact Harris was drawing in a notepad.

The judge - speaking at the end of the first day of the defence case - said he'd investigated and was satisfied the Australian's behaviour was innocent.

"Please don't hold it against him," Justice Sweeney told the jury of six men and six women, adding the sketches had been confiscated and destroyed.

Taking photographs or making sketches is banned in UK courts.

Even official sketch artists are not allowed to do any actual drawing in a courtroom.

They simply observe proceedings and, if they wish, make written notes. They then leave to draw from memory.

Justice Sweeney also noted some jury members had raised concerns about the fact they'd bumped into Harris during breaks in the trial.

The judge again pointed out this was "innocent" and Harris shouldn't be blamed.

"But equally it mustn't happen because it is uncomfortable for all," he said.

Harris on Tuesday gave his version of events for the first time publicly.

The 84-year-old said it was "ludicrous" to suggest he'd had sexual relations with his daughter's childhood friend when she was underage.

He also denied indecently assaulting three other girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986.

At the start of the day defence lawyer Sonia Woodley QC took Harris through his career highlights.

The entertainer described in detail how he invented the wobble board by accident in 1959 when he was trying to get a painting to dry quickly using an oil heater.

"I grabbed it to sort of fan it down," he said, adding it went "blup, blup, blup".

Harris then explained that he learnt to play the didgeridoo in 1962 and told the court "it consists of a hollow wooden tube".

He also sang part of his hit 1975 cover Jake the Peg saying: "I thought it was hysterically funny when I first heard it."

At various stages Ms Woodley had to bring the 84-year-old back to the point.

"I'm sure that's very interesting, but ..." she would say diplomatically.

At other times she proffered: "I don't think we need to go into the detail" and, alternatively, "Anyway, to cut a long story short".

Harris apologised at one point telling the jury: "I'm sorry I'm waxing a little too lyrical on these answers."

The trial continues.

- AAP

Next story: Rolf Harris witness describes alleged pub incident

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