x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

BBC star Stuart Hall admits sex abuse as Britain wonders

A veteran BBC broadcaster, Stuart Hall, has pleaded guilty to child sex offences, becoming the latest British TV star from the 1970s and 1980s to be embroiled in abuse allegations.

LONDON // A veteran BBC broadcaster, Stuart Hall, pleaded guilty to child sex offences yesterday, becoming the latest British TV star from the 1970s and 1980s to be embroiled in abuse allegations.

Hall, 83, who was best known for hosting the family TV show It's a Knockout and was still working for the BBC as a football radio commentator until recently, admitted to 14 counts of indecent offences against young girls over two decades, with the youngest victim just nine years old.

"Whether in public or private, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences and then bide his time until the victim was isolated," said Nazir Afzal, the chief crown prosecutor in north-western England.

"He can only be described as an opportunistic predator."

Hall's admission follows a scandal centred on the late Jimmy Savile, an eccentric former BBC TV presenter who police said in January had committed sex crimes on an unprecedented scale and was suspected of more than 200 offences.

The revelations about Savile, who was one of the BBC's biggest stars during the 1970s and 1980s and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, rocked the public broadcaster and heralded subsequent allegations against a procession of ageing, high-profile names.

On Wednesday, William Roache, the world's longest-serving TV soap actor, was charged with two counts of rape against a 15-year-old girl.

Mr Roache, 81, who has played womaniser Ken Barlow in the ITV soap opera Coronation Street since its first episode in 1960, is accused of attacking the girl in 1967.

While neither the cases of Hall nor Mr Roache were directly linked to the Savile case, the police inquiry into sex crimes has shocked Britons.

Last week a celebrity publicist, Max Clifford, 70, whose clients have included The X Factor reality TV creator Simon Cowell, was charged with 11 counts of indecent assault between 1966 and 1985.

An Australian children's entertainer, Rolf Harris, 83, who once painted the queen's portrait; a former BBC radio DJ, Dave Lee Travis, 67, who was praised by Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi for keeping her entertained during her years of house arrest; and a comedian, Freddie Starr, 70, are among those arrested.

Mr Clifford and others who have spoken out publicly or through their lawyers have denied any wrongdoing.