- Hall admits assaults between 1967 and 1986
- He previously denied wrongdoing saying allegations were 'pernicious'
- Bailed until sentencing next month
- 'He is only too aware that his disgrace is complete,' says his barrister
Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall was revealed as an “opportunistic predator” today after he sensationally admitted sexually assaulting girls as young as nine.
His life and career collapsed in ruins after he pleaded guilty to 14 indecent assaults on 13 girls between 1967 and 1986. His barrister told a court: “He is only too aware that his disgrace is complete.”
The dramatic development came after Hall, awarded an OBE last year, made repeated public denials of wrongdoing. But three months after dismissing the allegations against him as “pernicious, callous, cruel and spurious”, he was forced to admit that his victims, aged nine to 17, told the truth.
Today prosecutors said the former It’s A Knockout presenter was an “opportunistic predator” who would “approach under friendly pretences and then bide his time until the victim was isolated”. The TV host, 83, entered the guilty pleas in court last month but they can only be revealed today after reporting restrictions were lifted.
Sitting in the dock at Preston crown court, Hall calmly and repeatedly replied “guilty” when the charges were put to him at the hearing on April 16.
Brief details of the abuse suffered by three of his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were outlined in an earlier hearing at Preston magistrates’ court. In the 1980s Hall, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, molested a nine-year-old girl by putting his hand up her clothing.
He also kissed a girl of 13 on the lips after saying to her: “People need to show thanks in other ways.”
On another occasion in the Seventies he fondled the breast of a girl aged 16 or 17. Hall was charged with those three final offences on the same day he was arrested by Lancashire Police on December 5 last year.
He was later charged with historic sex offences against 10 more girls and the rape of a 22-year-old woman, whose case against Hall was today dropped. When the allegations were made public, Hall — who is married with two grown-up children — said he had endured “a living nightmare” and but for his “very loving family” may have considered taking his own life.
At Preston crown court today Hall, wearing a dark blue suit and striped tie, stood in the dock as Judge Anthony Russell set him free on bail but told him he would pass sentence on June 17.
“All sentencing options, including custody, will be available to the court,” said the judge. “I genuinely have not made up my mind.”
Today the BBC banned Hall from ever working for it again — as one of his victims broke her silence to tell how he sexually assaulted her when she was 17 at the hotel where she worked.
The woman, known only as Amy, said she had been chosen to be a cheerleader on It’s A Knockout, which was being filmed in her town.
She told ITV News: “He pushed me up against a wall and tried to force himself on to me. He grabbed hold of me, started kissing me and then tried to force himself on me.
“I struggled, I tried to push him away and it was only the fact that there was someone walking along the corridor and the floors creaked that he stopped and I managed to get away.”
Hall’s defence barrister Crispin Aylett, told the court the investigation had come “as a particularly bitter blow at this stage in his life”.
Mr Aylett said: “In a number of cases the parents of the complainants were aware at the time of what was said to have taken place but they took no action apart from the perfectly sensible one of keeping their children away from the defendant.
“The defendant is of course sorry for what he has done. Through me he wants to apologise to his victims.
“He is not a man easily moved to self-pity but he is only too aware that his disgrace is complete.”
In a statement on Hall’s behalf, his lawyers Brabners Chaffe Street said: “Mr Hall deeply and sincerely regrets his actions. He wishes to issue an un- reserved apology to the individuals concerned. He now accepts his behaviour and actions were completely wrong and he is very remorseful.
“Mr Hall also wishes to apologise to his family, friends and supportive members of the public for whom he has high regard and respect.”
The BBC expressed concern for the victims of its former presenter, adding that he would never be employed there again. It said: “The BBC is appalled by the disgraceful actions of Stuart Hall and we would like to express our sympathy to his victims.”
Outside court Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West, said: “His victims did not know each other and almost two decades separated the first and last assaults. But almost all of the victims, including one who was only nine at the time of the assault, gave strikingly similar accounts.
“In public or private, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences then bide his time until the victim was isolated. He can only be described as an opportunistic predator.”
He said the CPS had decided to drop the rape charge involving the 22-year-old woman because the complainant no longer wished to give evidence.
“The welfare of complainants is a top priority for us and we always take their concerns into account,” he said. “We have concluded that it would not be in the public interest to take steps to make her give evidence in court.”