The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP has decided not to refer the 5 year and 9 month sentence given to Rolf Harris to the Court of Appeal.
The vast majority of commentators felt that the initial sentence given to Harris was lenient: he was found guilty of 12 indecent assaults against 4 women, the youngest of whom was aged 7 at the time of the attack. He abused his position of trust as a celebrity and certainly groomed his daughter’s friend; there appear to have been some pretty severe psychological harm to the victims and as in the Max Clifford case it was clear that the Court was backing a robust approach in such situations.
The power to refer sentences to the Court of Appeal is given where the Law Officers consider a sentence to be “unduly” lenient. The Officers obviously looked at this threshold, which is high and decided that it did not fall significantly below the sentence that any Judge could have reasonably imposed. In its statement, the Attorney General’s office referred to the Judge having made some of the sentences consecutive to reach the total sentence and the requirement which the Judge was under to take into account Harris’ age.
Standing back, justice in this case looks like a man who has fallen from a very great height, from much loved celebrity to despised prisoner. He must now await civil claims and his name becomes an expression of profound disappointment rather than affection.
David Foster is a Partner of the firm Barlow Robbins LLP
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