Rolf Harris dead: what did he do, neck cancer illness, health and 2023 death explained - latest news
The former presenter lived in Berkshire with his wife, but his health had taken a turn for the worse
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Disgraced TV host and entertainer and convicted sex offender Rolf Harris has died. Ahead of his death, it was first reported that the former presenter was “gravely ill” and requiring 24-hour care as he fought neck cancer in 2022.
"Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go," Portia Wooderson, one of Harris’ neighbours, told The Daily Telegraph at the time. "I’m told he can’t eat anymore."
Private investigator and author William Merritt - who recently penned a book on Harris’ criminal trials - said Harris was "battling a cancer of the neck, and gargles when he talks. It’s difficult to understand him, but he is still the entertainer.”
Previous reports from 2019 suggested Harris’ health had “declined rapidly,” with him only leaving the house with a caregiver. According to MailOnline, his health deteriorated further after the death of his poodle earlier this year.
The average five-year survival rate following a diagnosis of head or neck cancer in the developed world is between 42 and 64%. Around 75% of cases are caused by alcohol and tobacco use.
What did Rolf Harris do?
Harris, an Australian-born singer, musician and TV personality, was first questioned as part of the Operation Yewtree investigation into historical sex crimes by British celebrities in November 2012, but his name was not released by the media at the time.
He was arrested at his Berkshire home the following March, and the media began to identify him by name. In August 2013, he was charged with 13 separate offences relating to the abuse of minors.
That December, Harris was charged with three further separate sexual assault offences involving females aged seven to 19, all of which occurred in the 1970s.
In June 2014, Haris was convicted on 12 counts - one of which was later overturned - and months later, it was revealed that seven further allegations had been brought against him. He was acquitted on three of those counts, and the jury couldn't agree on the remaining four.
Harris was freed from prison in May 2017 after completing three years of his five-year, nine-month sentence.
He had not spoken publicly since his release from prison, but he did provide a statement in William Merritt's recent book, Rolf Harris: The Defence Team's Special Investigator Reveals the Truth Behind the Trials.
Harris said: “I understand we live in the post truth era and know few will want to know what really happened during the three criminal trials I faced – it’s easier to condemn me and liken me to people like [Jimmy] Saville and [Gary] Glitter.
“I was convicted of offences I did not commit in my first trial. That is not just my view but the view of the Court of Appeal who overturned one of my convictions. I had already served the prison sentence by the time of the appeal.
“I changed my legal team after the first trial, and I was told that if the truth was out there, William [Merritt] would find it and he did. The evidence he found proved my innocence to two subsequent juries.
“I’d be in prison serving a sentence for crimes I did not commit if it were not for William’s investigation. It is difficult to put into words the injustice that I feel.”
Prior to his arrest, Harris was a famous star in the UK, perhaps most notably hosting the show vetinary television programme, Animal Hospital. In 2005, Harris painted a picture of the Queen to commemorate her 80th birthday - for his efforts, he was awarded a CBE, MBE and OBE.