Future unclear over disgraced Harris’ name

Rolf Harris on the Comedy Carpet
Rolf Harris on the Comedy Carpet
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The artist behind Blackpool’s Comedy Carpet has today admitted he is undecided about whether or not to remove disgraced star Rolf Harris’ name from the seafront site.

The shamed Australian entertainer is serving more than five years in prison for sex crimes against children.

Rolf Harris arriving at Southwark Crown Court, London before the veteran entertainer is sentenced for a string of indecent assaults. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 4, 2014. Harris, 84, from Bray in Berkshire, was convicted of nine assaults between 1968 and 1985 - one on a girl aged seven or eight, and the rest on teenagers between 14 and 19. The law at the time put the punishment at a maximum of two years, or five years for victims under 13. The remaining three guilty verdicts were for three counts of indecent assault on Tonya Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, in 1986 when she was 15, when the maximum penalty had changed to 10 years. See PA story COURTS Harris. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Rolf Harris arriving at Southwark Crown Court, London before the veteran entertainer is sentenced for a string of indecent assaults. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 4, 2014. Harris, 84, from Bray in Berkshire, was convicted of nine assaults between 1968 and 1985 - one on a girl aged seven or eight, and the rest on teenagers between 14 and 19. The law at the time put the punishment at a maximum of two years, or five years for victims under 13. The remaining three guilty verdicts were for three counts of indecent assault on Tonya Lee, who has waived her right to anonymity, in 1986 when she was 15, when the maximum penalty had changed to 10 years. See PA story COURTS Harris. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

And artist Gordon Young, who helped to create Blackpool’s £4m public art installation opposite The Tower, said he was not against scrubbing his name off – but wanted Blackpool Council’s opinion first.

The Glastonbury-based designer said: “I have been thinking about it and I feel undecided.

“I want the council’s take on it. I think he did terrible crimes – there is no doubt about that.

“I am not against taking it off. I hesitate for a few reasons. I wonder whether he can redeem himself. I do not believe anyone is beyond redemption. There are some names on there who have done lots of things, saints and sinners.

“He did awful things but others did too.”

Harris was jailed in July after he was found guilty of 12 indecent assaults against four girls – including one aged just seven.

Mr Young said if asked to remove the name, he could cover the it by putting a black mark through the letters.

He added: “My hesitation is the historical fact. He sold the records and performed across the UK.

“The whole business of redemption is important. I am not against removing it. I would need to weigh up whether it is the right thing to do.

“If I do something I have to be careful – it might happen again with other entertainers. This artwork will last 100 years – I am trying to take a long-term, measured view.”

Entertainers including Keith Harris and Joey Blower called for the name to be struck off the attraction when brought to light by The Gazette earlier this month.

Following Harris’s conviction Fylde-based singer Linda Nolan told how she had been targeted by Harris, who kissed her neck when she was just 15.

Blackpool Council said it would speak with Mr Young before making a further decision.

Coun Christine Wright, cabinet member for culture and heritage, said: “First and foremost, it is right to say that Mr Harris’s acts were despicable but his name being on the carpet in no way condones those acts.

“That said, erasing history is not a decision to be taken lightly. We are in direct contact with the artist and will work with him to make a suitable final decision on whether the mention should remain in place on the artwork.”