Harris trial running longer than expected

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The Rolf Harris trial will continue into next week after jurors asked for letters to be sent to their employers excusing them from work because they’re still deliberating.


Friday was originally set down as the last day the six men and six women could possibly be required for jury service in London.

But the child sex abuse trial, now in its eighth week, was beset by a series of delays in its later stages, including when defence barrister Sonia Woodley QC was hospitalised.

Justice Nigel Sweeney on Friday admitted: “Today is the last day of the most pessimistic estimate of how long this would all take.”

He told concerned jurors a letter would be sent to their employers and guaranteed “there will be no adverse consequences”.

The jury has now been deliberating for seven days. It’s been out for more than 33 hours in total.

“You are not, and must not, feel under any pressure of time or other extraneous pressure at all,” Justice Sweeney said.

He reminded the jury members the court “requires true verdicts, if you can reach them, according to the evidence”.

The jury on Thursday passed a note to the judge asking for “some clarification”.

Jurors queried if they could discuss the legal directions they’d been given as “there seems some confusion”.

The note raised five points including whether the jury was “to judge each count independently”.

Harris is charged with 12 counts of indecent assault against four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986.

The Australian’s main accuser is a childhood friend of his daughter Bindi.

She claims Harris abused her from the age of 13 but he insists the pair had a 10-year consensual affair that started after she turned 18.

Another six women gave supporting evidence during the trial that Harris abused them in Australia, New Zealand and Malta between 1969 and 1991.

The star denies touching any of the women inappropriately.

Harris told the court in late May: “They are all making it up.”

The 84-year-old on Friday waited for news at Southwark Crown Court supported by his wife, Alwen, Bindi and a small group of other family and friends.

Justice Sweeney has asked for unanimous verdicts at this stage.

The jury will resume deliberations on Monday at 10am London time (1900 AEST).