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Entertainer's hugs were not sexual, Harris trial jury told

VETERAN entertainer Rolf Harris complimented his daughter's friend on her "curves" but not in a "lurid way", a jury has heard.

The 84-year-old was "very tactile" but would "run away" when giggling teenage girls visited his daughter Bindi, London's Southwark Crown Court was told.

He is accused of 12 counts of indecent assault on four women between 1968 and 1986, all of which he denies.

Bindi's friend Joanne Charles told the jury of six men and six women that when Harris gave her one of his bear hugs it was like her father embracing her, and that he would shy away from his daughter's friends.

"When we were all together, I think we were too loud and too giggly and Rolf used to run away from the noise and the giggling. I think he thought we were all a bit too giggly, silly," she said. The witness said his embraces were paternal rather than sexual. "It was lovely. It was affectionate. Because I had known him for so long, it was just like having my father put his arms around me."

Ms Charles's father, Don Charles, ran a club in Malta where Harris performed in the 1970s, the court heard.

When her family returned to the UK, she would go and stay with Bindi and her family. Harris is accused of having molested another of his daughter's friends from the age of 13, but Ms Charles said he had not shown any interest in the girl, who she described as "bland".

Asked how Harris's behaviour had been when she got older, she said: "It's been the same really. He has always been very cuddly, very warm, tactile. I think there were comments like 'goodness, aren't you a curvy girl? You've got such lovely curves'."

But she said she did not find them offensive: "No, I didn't because it wasn't in a lurid way, it was in a friendly, warm way."

Harris admits having had a consensual sexual affair with the alleged victim from the age of 18.

Ms Charles said she was "saddened and shocked" when she heard the news.

The trial was adjourned to today.

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