Rolf Harris launches appeal against sex abuse convictions

Rolf Harris is set to appeal two of his sex convictions at the High Court on November 7

Rolf Harris will get the chance to overturn two of his child sex convictions in court next month.

After pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into the appeal, lawyers for the 87-year-old will try to clear his name.

The disgraced television star, who was released from jail five months ago, has hired a cohort of private investigators who have allegedly tracked down key witnesses – including two police officers who did not appear in court when he was first convicted.

The former police officer whom Harris has hired to head up his team likened the hunt for evidence to clear his name to ‘climbing a huge mountain’ – but maintains that he can ‘prove’ his innocence. 

The two-day appeal in the High Court which starts on November 7, is thought to relate to two different victims, one of whom claimed Harris molested her when she was aged seven or eight as she tried to get his autograph at a community centre in Havant, Hampshire.

The other case is thought to be regarding Harris groping a 15-year-old Australian girl on a school trip to Britain in 1986.

A source told the Mirror: ‘This is the beginning of Rolf’s campaign appeal. He is ­challenging two convictions first and wants to carry on with the others later.’

His wife Alwen, 86, and their daughter Bindi, 53, both attended every day of his original trial and are still fully behind Harris.

The Australian entertainer was stripped of his CBE and a number of his awards following his conviction, and now has to attend parole board meetings and sex offenders’ courses as well as reporting his whereabouts to police, according to reports.

William Merritt, who is leading a four-person investigative team to help clear Harris’ name, has spent more than two years pouring over his convictions.

The private investigator and his team believe there is ‘compelling evidence’ against Harris and described Operation Yewtree, which was set up in the wake of historic sex abuse scandals following the Jimmy Savile case, as a ‘witchhunt’.

Discussing Yewtree, he said: ‘People were swept along. The standard of the evidence was very low. Someone was pulling the strings upstairs and telling them they must get convictions.’ 

Harris’ team has already helped overturn some of the convictions against Harris, successfully clearing the sexual deviant of seven separate sex offences at a trial earlier this year.  

Merritt, a former police detective in New Zealand and father to three daughters, added: ‘I have no time for sexual predators.

‘But I decided to work with Rolf Harris after I spent about an hour and a half looking through the evidence.’  

During his original trial, Harris had his wife Alwen, 86, (right) and daughter Bindi, 53, (left) stick by him

During his original trial, Harris had his wife Alwen, 86, (right) and daughter Bindi, 53, (left) stick by him