Rolf Harris - Evidence Law Question

The trial of Rolf Harris in London - for those unfamiliar -

At the moment the prosecution is adducing evidence from women who allege they were assaulted as children by Rolf Harris, in Australia and New Zealand. But Harris is not charged with those assaults because they happened in other jurisdictions.

How do British evidentiary rules deal with this? How can the court hear from witnesses about matters which the court is not adjudicating upon?

The news here said the Oz witness was a “bad character witness”.

t common law bad character of an accused could not be adduced at all except as a rebuttal to claims made by the accused of good character.

In England this was altered by the CJA 2003 ss101 aand 112 which permits evidence of bad character with leave of the court.

Thanks AK84. I shall ponder anon.

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 (UK) extends the bounds of evidence way beyond what I learned in law school many years ago (NZ).

Propensity and similar fact evidence are high hurdles. Usually such evidence can only be adduced when a defendant has previous convictions of a very similar nature and I’m not aware of Rolf Harris being previously convicted.

We have to assume his counsel fought tooth and nail to have this propensity evidence excluded and I’m a bit surprised the probative value test was overcome.

Or maybe they took a punt, reasoning that 30yr old experiences by enthralled schoolgirls are fantasies or misconceptions.

Interesting stuff.

The CJA 2003 is on of the most badly thought out laws ever passed.

2005] EWHC 2929 (Admin);

This is still the rule in the US (at least in criminal cases), except that evidence of a defendant’s propensity will be admitted if he alleges entrapment (since the theory behind an entrapment defense is that the police convinced the defendant to do something he ordinarily would not have.)