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Paedophile Hall gets cleared of 15 rape charges

Convicted paedophile Stuart Hall was cleared by a jury yesterday of a string of rapes and sexual assaults.

Hall (84) made no reaction as he was convicted of one indecent assault but cleared of 15 rapes and four other indecent assaults by a jury of eight women and four men following seven hours and 15 minutes of deliberations.

At the start of the trial he had pleaded guilty to one other count of indecent assault.

The former BBC broadcaster mouthed Thank you’ to the jury at Preston Crown Court at the end of the two-week trial as he was led away to the cells to continue serving his sentence for earlier offences.

Impassive

Hall wearing a dark suit, white shirt and striped tie, sat impassively in the dock, legs crossed, hands resting on his lap, as he was told he will be sentenced for the one charge he was convicted of next Friday, before trial judge Mr Justice Turner.

The former It’s A Knockout presenter and BBC Radio 5 Live football match summariser was not due to be released until September.

He was taken from custody in Leyland, Lancashire, last October and was questioned about allegations from the two complainants who came forward after his conviction last year.

He was then charged with numerous counts of rape and indecent assault, which he denied.

Both girls and their families were known to the defendant.

Hall chose not to give evidence from the witness box as his defence team questioned whether the case was “a persecution” rather than a prosecution.

The broadcaster - who was then in his mid-40s - said the sex with the girls in their mid-teens was consensual.

Many of the encounters were at BBC television studios in Manchester - at Piccadilly and at Oxford Road - where Hall presented the corporation’s regional news programme.

Hall’s barrister Crispin Aylett QC questioned why both girls would continually return to the BBC studios and suggested it was because they enjoyed the “charming” and “charismatic” company of the “larger-than-life” defendant.

He said the sexual activity was wrong but Hall was not a rapist.

Exploit

Last year, Preston Crown Court heard that Hall indecently assaulted a 15-year-old girl at Oxford Road and also exploited his BBC connections to sexually exploit three other girls.

A detailed investigation into Hall’s conduct at the BBC is being carried out by retired High Court judge Dame Linda Dobbs.

Hall was initially given a 15-month prison term last year but the Court of Appeal ruled the sentence was “inadequate” and it was doubled a month later.

The appeal judges were told that Hall was “not in particularly robust health” and could die in prison.

The married father of two was stripped of his OBE for broadcasting and charity in the wake of his convictions.

He was a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century, and his eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.

hnews@herald.ie


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