Entertainment

Rolf Harris died of neck cancer and old age, death certificate shows

The disgraced entertainer was 93.
The disgraced entertainer was 93. The disgraced entertainer was 93.

Rolf Harris died of neck cancer and “frailty of old age” on May 10, according to a death certificate filed at Maidenhead Town Hall and seen by the PA news agency.

The disgraced entertainer and convicted sex offender, 93, was a family favourite for decades before being convicted of a string of indecent assaults in June 2014.

These included one on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, two on girls in their early teens and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years.

His death certificate lists the causes of death as “metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of neck” and “frailty of old age”.

He died at home in Bray, Berkshire.

The certificate also suggested Harris would be cremated.

A statement from his family, released through his solicitor, said: “This is to confirm that Rolf Harris recently died peacefully surrounded by family and friends and has now been laid to rest.

“They ask that you respect their privacy. No further comment will be made.”

Once a much-loved artist and musician, Harris was jailed for five years and nine months after being convicted of 12 assaults which took place between 1968 and 1986.

Rolf Harris court case
Rolf Harris court case Rolf Harris leaving Southwark Crown Court (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Sentencing Harris, Mr Justice Sweeney told him: “Your reputation lies in ruins. You have been stripped of your honours and you have no-one to blame but yourself.”

In May 2017, he was formally cleared of four unconnected historical sex offences, which he had denied.

Later the same year, one of the 12 indecent assault convictions was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

He remained out of the spotlight until 2019, when he walked on to the premises of a primary school in his home town, reportedly to talk to a sculptor working in the grounds.

Harris left as soon as he was asked and the school said no pupils came into contact with him. No arrests were made.

Harris was released on licence from HMP Stafford on May 19 2017, less than three years after his sentence began.

At the time, his was the biggest celebrity scalp to be claimed by detectives from high-profile sex crime investigation Operation Yewtree.

He was the second person convicted under the national inquiry, set up in the wake of abuse claims against late DJ and entertainer Jimmy Savile.

In light of his conviction, Harris had his 2012 Bafta fellowship removed and was stripped of his CBE. He also had Australian honours taken away.

Rolf Harris poses next to his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II
Rolf Harris poses next to his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II Harris poses next to his portrait of Queen Elizabeth II (PA)

He was made an MBE in the 1960s, an OBE a decade later and a CBE in 2006 – the year after he painted the late Queen’s 80th birthday portrait.

It was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on December 19 2005.

The portrait was exhibited at Buckingham Palace and Holyroodhouse, and was taken on a tour of public galleries throughout the UK.

After his conviction, it disappeared.

The decision to revoke his CBE, which can be recommended by the Honours and Appointments Secretariat to the Forfeiture Committee, must be approved by the sovereign.