Former BBC presenter Stuart Hall is branded an “opportunistic predator” as he admits indecently assaulting 13 girls, the youngest aged nine, between the 1960s and the 1980s.
Mr Hall, 83, entered guilty pleas last month at Preston Crown Court but they can only be revealed now after reporting restrictions were lifted.
The chief prosecutor described Mr Hall, who has had a long career working at the BBC on shows like It’s a Knockout, as “an opportunistic predator” as Mr Hall admitted 14 counts of indecent assault.
Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said outside court: “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, provided strikingly similar accounts.
“Whether in public or private, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences and then bide his time until the victim was isolated. He can only be described as an opportunistic predator.”
He is not a man easily moved to self pity but he is only too aware his disgrace is complete. Stuart Hall’s barrister Crispin Aylett QC
The sex offences took place between 1967 and 1986. When the charges were put to him during the hearing on 16 April, Hall answered “guilty”, despite pleading not guilty at a previous hearing and making emotional protestations of his innocence to the press.
He earlier described the claims as “pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious”, saying but for his “very loving family” he might have considered taking his own life over the allegations.
However, as his “guilty” pleas came to light, Mr Hall’s barrister Crispin Aylett QC made a rather different statement.
“The defendant is, of course, sorry for what he has done. Through me he wishes to apologise to his victims,” he said.
“He is not a man easily moved to self pity but he is only too aware his disgrace is complete.”
A brief outline of the abuse suffered by three of his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was outlined at an earlier hearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court.
In the 1980s Mr Hall molested a nine-year-old girl by putting his hand up her clothing.
Stuart Hall's statement
Brabners Chaffe Street said on his behalf: "Stuart Hall confirms that he has pleaded guilty to fourteen charges of indecent assault.
"Mr Hall deeply and sincerely regrets his actions. He wishes to issue an unreserved 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 last five months have been a strain and an ordeal for his family, who are standing by him. He asks for privacy during the next few weeks and he emphasises that he is contrite and faces punishment with fortitude and remorse.
"Mr Hall will not be making any further comment at this stage."
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. Mr Hall was charged with those three offences on the same day as was arrested by Lancashire Constabulary on December 5 last year.
At the time, the BBC said he would not work for them while the matter was being investigated and the corporation has now terminated his contract.
It said: “The BBC 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.”
Two of the 14 charges related to indecent penetration, the court heard.
The reporting restrictions were in place to avoid prejudicing a possible future trial on another charge of rape, which the Crown Prosecution Service said it would not be proceeding with in light of Mr Hall’s guilty plea. Three other counts of assault from the same claimant would also be allowed to lie on file. The claimant was happy with this decision, it added.
Detective chief inspector Neil Esseen, of the force’s major investigation team, paid tributes to the bravery of the victims, saying it showed how seriously the police took allegations of sexual abuse.
“The admissions of Mr Hall will at least spare his victims the ordeal of having to recount their abuse at a trial,” he said.
“They have lived with what happened for a long period of time and it cannot have been easy for them to come forward, especially as when they did so, they did not know there were others who had also suffered abuse.
“I would personally like to pay tribute to the victims for their bravery in coming forward to report these crimes.”
The cases are a huge fall from grace for the BBC presenter, who also worked regularly on BBC Five Live’s football coverage. He also wrote a column for the Radio Times. In 2012, he received an OBE on the New Year’s Honours List.
Mr Hall will be required to sign the Sex Offenders Register. He has been granted bail until his sentencing on 17 June.