A veteran BBC presenter who was jailed last month for child sex abuse had his sentence doubled to 30 months on Friday, after a London appeal court ruled it was “unduly lenient.”
Stuart Hall has been a well-known face on British television for the past 50 years, presenting shows such as It’s a Knockout. He also made a name as a sports reporter.
The 83-year-old was originally sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault against girls as young as nine. The abuse took place between 1967 and 1985 and involved 13 victims.
But attorney general Dominic Grieve referred the case to the appeal court after calls that the sentence was too lenient.
The court on Friday ruled that Hall’s sentence was “inadequate” and failed to reflect “public concern” about such crimes.
“I hope that this case has highlighted the fact that historical sexual offences are always taken very seriously and show that the law still applies, whoever the offender may be,” said the judge.
A source said: “The victim was the daughter of friends well known to some of his relatives. She’s now in her 30s.” The four other claims concern sexual assaults.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We can confirm that we have received further allegations against Mr Hall and we are working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine the most appropriate course of action.
“We take all allegations of sexual abuse seriously and we would encourage people with any information about sexual abuse or who has been a victim of sexual abuse to come forward and report their concerns confident in the knowledge it will be investigated with sensitivity.”
But his 15 month sentence sparked fury among victims and campaigners who branded it too soft.
Just days ago, it emerged Attorney General Dominic Grieve has referred the term the Court of Appeal for review after he received around 150 complaints about the sentence.
If found guilty of the latest allegations, Hall faces spending the rest of his life behind bars.
The former It’s A Knockout and Radio 5 Live presenter was arrested in December.
But in a shameless bid to deny his vile past, he branded the claims “pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious”.
However, when faced with overwhelming evidence Hall relented and admitted his crimes. The court heard he was an “opportunistic predator” who used his fame to befriend innocent girls before pouncing.
In the 80s, he 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 telling her: “People need to show thanks in other ways.” Hall was also accused of raping a woman in a BBC studio during the 70s. The alleged victim, now a 59-year-old mum, was 22 when the attack is said to have taken place. She is now suing the corporation. That alleged offence was not among the string of charges Hall admitted.
He was arrested and charged over the claim, but it was left to lie on file after his guilty plea to the other offences.
Judge Anthony Russell QC told the court he had to sentence Hall based on the maximum sentence available at the time the crimes were committed, which was two to five years.
However, the maximum sentence for similar horrific offences has now been increased to 10 years.
I THINK I probably struck a chord with most readers last week when expressing disappointment at the feeble length of Stuart Hall’s sentence for child sex crimes.
And, for that matter, with my incredulity at near identical sentences meted out for someone who smuggled a small amount of cannabis into a prison and someone who battered his wife to death.
A week on and I wonder whether I will find quite so much support for the view that I think the teacher Jeremy Forrest got a disproportionately heavy sentence.
Well, here goes.
Yes, the man is an immature fool who broke numerous golden rules of teaching, not least that vital one about maintaining a position of trust.
And yes, to have sex with a minor is a criminal act in this country which should be punishable, and yes, he did flee to another country with the girl which again is a serious offence.
He deserved the sack and probably some kind of custodial term. But five and a half years?
There are several mitigating factors even without making comparisons with cases where killers have received shorter jail terms than Forrest. One is that his victim was only a few months short of her 16th birthday. Had he waited those few months before beginning the relationship he would not now be branded a paedophile and not be in prison.
Had he run off with a girl yet to reach her teens and had sex with her then they would have been much graver crimes than the ones he committed.
I think this country has the age of sexual consent right, although it ought to be pointed out that many others have a lower one – for instance it’s only 13 in Spain, believe it or not.
The girl also went willingly with Forrest, and to this day claims she wants to marry him (and he her, for that matter, suggesting something rather different than pervy opportunism).
Her feelings may well in time change, and many a column inch has been written about the teenager’s intellectual immaturity and the “grooming” by a man twice her age which rightly have to be factored in any sentencing decisions.
But the courts should also credit the girl with some independence of thought, as they surely would if she had been an offender.
Minors as young as 10 can be prosecuted for crimes in England, by dint of which the law recognises that adolescents have minds of their own.
Ultimately, though, I return to the contrasts with other felons.
Look no further than Darren Pilkington who, 12 years ago helped his brother batter Hindley man Paul Akister to death. He got four years for ending that life, was out in far less and then went on to kill his girlfriend Carly Fairhurst. Was Mr Akister’s manslaughter really less serious in the eyes of the law than what Forrest did?
And why does a man having one consensual relationship with a girl almost no longer a child get jailed for more than five years and a serial predator like Hall who abused children as young as nine only get 15 months?
Jayne Lee is still haunted by the “child-catcher” laugh of the paedophile, who would touch her when her unsuspecting mum was in the next room.
Revealing the depth of Hall’s depravity in targeting a member of his own family, traumatised Jayne said the grooming continued until she was 13.
On one occasion “Uncle Stu” terrified her by begging to be let in when she went to the bathroom and locked the door.
Bravely waiving her right to anonymity, Jayne, now 45, has broken her 30-year silence to reveal how the former BBC presenter left her too scared to tell her mum what he did. She said: “I was innocent but I still knew it was wrong. I was too scared to tell anyone because everyone was in awe of Stuart Hall, as he was a member of the family and famous.
“To me he was a horrible lech who was forever touching me and I will never forget how he looked at me. When he finished he would laugh it off – it was that loud laugh you heard on television.”
Jayne said she is aware of another girl who says she was molested by the former Radio Five Live commentator.
She feared he would never be brought to justice because of his fame. But Hall, 83, who presented It’s A Knockout, faces jail after pleading guilty to 13 indecent assaults on 14 girls between 1967 and 1985.
Jayne, whose uncle Keith Hall is Stuart’s brother, has tried to block out her experience but last week’s court hearing brought the memories flooding back.
She told how he visited her home in the early 1970s when he was opening a supermarket on her estate and her mother went to see him.
Jayne said: “My mum invited him back and she bent over backwards to accommodate him as he was famous and in our house. He came across to me while my mum was out of the room making tea.”
The pattern became horribly familiar. Jayne added: “When he used to embrace me, it was more than a hug. He would brush his hands across my chest on purpose on the pretence of embracing me.
“I was so innocent at that age but I knew it was wrong. He was forever touching my knees and hugging me. It didn’t feel right.” Jayne said Hall visited their home on a number of occasions, often when he was making an appearance in the area at the height of his fame. Every time he disguised inappropriate touching with a “friendly hug” while her mother was out of the room.
“I will never forget that laugh. I don’t want to hear it again. To me that laugh was abusive – it was a cynical, horrible, childcatcher laugh.
“My mother would be back and forth from the kitchen making tea. It wasn’t noticed by my mum.
“I never forget the way he looked at me. It was the most haunting and frightening look ever. I can describe it now as this age as I now understand this look to be a leer. I didn’t know at that time it was leering but I knew it seemed wrong. Nobody I knew ever looked at me like he looked at me. His aura said, ‘I am me and you are nothing’ – he had a hold over everyone.”
Jayne described how creepy Hall, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, went to kiss her on the lips once but she managed to avoid his sick advances.
In another disturbing incident, Jayne described how he followed her upstairs as she went to the bathroom. She said: “He stood outside and he was tapping the door and saying ‘Can I come in and help you?’ I was really scared. I was only nine at the time.
“I flushed the chain and I stayed in the bathroom because I was scared he was going to be outside the door and I flushed again in the hope he would just go. He was listening to me while I was in the toilet.
“When I opened the door he was halfway down the stairs and he just looked up at me and said, ‘I wanted to help you’ and I just thought, ‘Oh my God’. I was petrified – I didn’t know what he was going to do.”
Jayne added: “My mother was star-struck and couldn’t see the wood for the trees. But I didn’t like him. I hated him. He was on the TV, in our house, related to us and we almost had to bow down to him. So I had to shut up about what he had done. He never mentioned his wife, didn’t talk about his kids, nothing like that. It was just all about himself.
“I only ever once said to my mother, ‘I don’t like him’ and she berated me for it. He had this aura which said, ‘I am famous and I can do anything I bloody well want.’ I could tell that attitude and I was nine.”
Father-of-two Hall, awarded an OBE last year, said he would fight the charges after his arrest. Jayne was sickened by his claim that the allegations were “callous, cruel and spurious” and shocked by the number of offences he admitted.
Jayne, whose mum died in 2002, said: “I was gobsmacked. I used to say to myself it would come out one day but the amount shocked me. I thought, ‘You bastard’.”
She said: “My mother would be horrified now – she would say, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ But what do you say at that age?”
Jayne added: “I couldn’t believe it when I read that girls were taken to his dressing room at the BBC and described as his nieces. The cheek and irony of it! Nobody ever knew one of his victims was actually his relative. I feel so much better for speaking about it.”
At least 12 victims are pursuing civil claims against Hall and the BBC.
The BBC has made a sudden U-turn over its decision not to hold a separate internal inquiry into the disgraced presenter Stuart Hall, who last week admitted to indecently assaulting 13 girls.
The organisation was criticised after it said it would only look at the matter as part of an ongoing review led by Dame Janet Smith into the culture and practices which allowed Jimmy Savile‘s activities at the BBC to go undetected.
Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, told the BBC’s Andrew MarrShow on Sunday that holding a separate inquiry into Hall would “probably delay arriving at the truth”.
But yesterday the BBC took a different position.
“In light of a potential conflict of interest with Dame Janet Smith there will be a separate and parallel fact-finding inquiry covering Stuart Hall’s conduct at the BBC,” it said.
“This work will be led by a different individual to be agreed by the BBC and its results will be incorporated into the review’s overall conclusions.”
BBC News said yesterday that it understood Dame Janet knows someone who has been named in Press reports in relation to Hall.
Rob Wilson, a Conservative MP who had attacked the BBC for not holding a separate inquiry, last night criticised the BBC chairman’s leadership.
“Only yesterday he said no new investigation, today it has changed. I had hoped something would have been learned from the Savile debacle,” he said.
PERVERT telly star Stuart Hall was a member of a paedophile group including a member of the House of Lords, one of his victims has claimed.
The woman told how the unnamed peer “helped” Hall carry out his decades of abuse.
The news came as it emerged that – in a final insult to his victims – Hall has signed over ownership of his £1.2million Cheshire mansion to wife Hazel, making it harder for them to sue him for its value.
And we can reveal they are concerned Hall could still evade “true justice” as the judge sentencing him has let sex offenders walk free in the past.
Sources close to the Lancashire Police investigation into Hall said they were “aware of the (paedophile) claims” and urged anyone with information to come forward.
The ex-BBC North West newsreader last month admitted 14 counts of sex abuse on women and girls as young as nine.
After his initial arrest in January he pleaded his innocence in a strongly-worded statement.
But it emerged last week that just two weeks later he was hatching secret plans to safeguard his family’s fortune and make it harder for victims to get their hands on it.
Hall and wife Hazel bought their mansion in Wilmslow in 1981 – and jointly owned it until February 22 this year.
Land Registry documents show Hall, 83, then signed his share over to his wife.
Legal experts said yesterday that only his assets could be seized to pay off victims – not those of his family.
Some have suffered up to 45 years of anguish – and, so far, around six have approached law firms looking to sue for compensation.
Alan Collins, a lawyer at one company which has been contacted, said it was common for villains to try to hide their assets.
Mr Collins said: “Generally speaking it is a common problem. Offenders try to put their assets beyond the reach of victims so they don’t have to pay them compensation.
“But if a villain transfers assets in order to avoid liability the court has the power to set aside that transaction.”
Mr Collins, of Manchester-based Pannone Solicitors, added: “A common problem for me in these cases is having to chase villains to find out where their money is because they do put it beyond the reach of victims if they can.”
When the house transfer was made, the former It’s A Knockout host had been charged with multiple sex offences – but had not admitted he was a paedophile.
Earlier that month he issued a statement saying the claims of abuse were “pernicious, callous, cruel and, above all, spurious”.
And he further attacked the victims, saying: “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.”
But last month Hall finally confessed his guilt, which was made public on Thursday.
He admitted indecently assaulting girls from 1968 to 1986.
Personal injury lawyer Liz Dux, who is representing 67 abuse victims of disgraced Jimmy Savile, said: “There could be significant financial claims against Mr Hall for assault and psychiatric injury.”
Ms Dux said the BBC could also face a new raft of civil claims for damages.
Hall faces ten years in jail when sentenced – but may still walk free, like at least two other child sex offenders dealt with by the same judge.
Anthony Russell QC has, however, told Hall “all sentencing options” will be considered.
Legal archives show how eight years ago he sparked uproar after giving a cub scout leader a community rehabilitation order over a string of child sex offences.
And in 2009 he gave another paedophile a suspended prison sentence, despite him admitting five counts of sexual activity with a girl aged 14.
Last night one of Hall’s victims, who was 17 when he assaulted her, said: “For true justice, he should get the strongest penalty.”