Stuart Hall admits 14 assault charges and faces jail

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In a dramatic about turn, BBC presenter Stuart Hall admitted 14 counts of sexually assaulting young girls. The 83 year-old had previously vehemently denied all allegations but in court Hall admitted the charges which covered offences dating between 1968 and 1986. He will be sentenced in June.

The prosecutor Nazir Afzal labelled Hall as an "opportunistic predator". "Whether in public or private, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences," the prosecutor told the court, "and then bide his time until the victim was isolated." One of Hall's targets gave ITN News a dramatic account of being assaulted by Hall in a hotel shortly after she had landed a role as a cheerleader on Hall's gameshow It's a Knockout.

Hall reached the height of his fame in the 1970s as host of It's A Knockout, but he continued working as an idiosyncratic sports reporter for Radio 5 into his 80s. After the admission, the BBC immediately ended Hall's connection with the broadcaster. For the BBC the alarming possibility is that it may subsequently emerge that Hall used his celebrity to facilitate his attacks on girls. Their statement said: "The BBC is appalled by the disgraceful actions of Stuart Hall and we would express our sympathy to his victims. We will continue to work with the police to assist them in this and any other inquiries they are making."

The arrest of another high-profile celebrity from the north-west has no connection with the BBC. The 81 year-old William Roache has played Ken Barlow in ITV soap Coronation Street for more than half a century. He was arrested on rape charges relating to an alleged assault in 1967. The news came as a further blow to the soap, which is already dealing with the arrest of another cast regular Michael Le Vell, who goes to trial in September on child sex offence charges.

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