British broadcaster Stuart Hall pleads guilty to sex abuse

Reporting restrictions lifted after Hall pleaded guilty to indecent assault of 13 minors

British broadcaster Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to indecently assaulting 13 girls aged from nine to 17. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

British broadcaster Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to indecently assaulting 13 girls aged from nine to 17. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Thu, May 2, 2013, 13:12

British broadcaster Stuart Hall has pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to indecently assaulting 13 girls aged from nine to 17.

Despite previous vociferous public denials of any wrongdoing, Hall (83), a former presenter of It’s a Knockout, had calmly and repeatedly answered “guilty” when the charges were put to him at a hearing on April 16th. Reporting restrictions meant the news could only become public today.

Sat in front of the dock with his legal representatives, he confirmed his full name of James Stuart Hall to the clerk in the plea hearing.

He then stood up as he uttered the single damning word which has now ruined his reputation.

The recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC, told him he would be required to sign the Sex Offenders Register.

In a statement, the BBC said it “is appalled by the disgraceful actions of Stuart Hall and we would like to express our sympathy to his victims. We will continue to work with the police to assist them in this and any other enquiries they are making.”

A brief outline of the abuse suffered by three of Hall’s victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was outlined at an earlier hearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court.

In the 1980s, Hall molested a nine-year-old girl by putting his hand up her clothing. He also kissed a 13-year-old girl on the lips after he said to her: “People need to show thanks in other ways.”

On another occasion in the 1970s he fondled the breast of a girl aged 16 or 17.

Hall was charged with those three offences on the same day as he was arrested by Lancashire Constabulary on December 5th last year.

The BBC said at the time that Hall, a regular football match summariser on Radio 5 Live would not work for the corporation until the matter was resolved.

Historical offences

He was subsequently charged with historical sex offences against 10 more girls and the rape of a 22-year-old woman.

Following those allegations, Hall read out a strident condemnation to reporters in which he labelled the claims as “pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious”.

He said he had endured “a living nightmare”, and but for his “very loving family” he could have considered taking his own life.

Hall has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century. He was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours.

His eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.

He also wrote a weekly sport column for the Radio Times magazine up until his arrest.

Hall maintained his innocence when he made his first appearance in a courtroom in January.

Appearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court, he was asked whether he understood the charges and whether he wanted to enter a plea.

He replied: “Yes I do. Not guilty to all three charges.”

After another appearance at the court, rather than an expected quote of “no comment” to gathered media, the veteran broadcaster used the ready platform to give a colourful and passionate statement in which he described his “living nightmare”.

He questioned why the claims dating back more than 40 years had now surfaced.

“Like a lot of other people in this country today I am wondering why it has taken 30 or 40 years for these allegations to surface.

“The last two months of my life have been a living nightmare. I have never gone through so much stress in my life and I am finding it difficult to sustain.”

PA