One of the 12 people arrested by British police investigating allegations of sexual abuse has been identified as Australian-born entertainer and artist Rolf Harris.
Harris, a household name in Britain and Australia for more than 50 years, was arrested on March 28 and questioned by detectives involved in Operation Yewtree, which was set up following the death of BBC star Jimmy Savile.
Harris was bailed until next month. The 83-year-old has not been charged and The Sun newspaper, which broke ranks and identified Harris on Friday, said he had strongly denied the allegations.
Police have not yet confirmed that the elderly man arrested in March was Harris. Until now, they have only described him “Yewtree 5.”
But according to the Guardian, mainstream media had been aware of the allegations against Harris for months, but had remained silent due to “legal pressure from Harris’ lawyers.”
“The decision by the Sun to publish appeared to be a pre-emptive strike in a fresh freedom of speech battle between newspapers and lawyers to the famous and powerful,” the Guardian wrote.
Harris, a fixture on British and Australian television screens for decades, declined to comment when approached by the Evening Standard.
His wife, Alwen, told the newspaper: “We don’t know what’s going on, we can’t talk.”
Agence France-Presse reported that the allegations against Harris were unrelated to Savile, who is believed to have abused hundreds of children and women over more than half a century.
Harris has had a long and successful career in the entertainment industry.
Apart from presenting various television shows around the world, Harris has also put out 30 studio albums and 48 singles including his hit “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport,” which topped the Australian singles chart in 1960 and went to No. 3 in the United States.
In 2005, Harris painted a portrait of the queen, which the Press Association described as the "pinnacle" of his career, and he was awarded an MBE in 1968, an OBE in 1977 and a CBE in 2006.
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