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  1. ITV Report

Stuart Hall jury begin deliberations at Preston Crown Court

Stuart Hall Photo:

The jury in the rape trial of veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall, from Cheshire, has retired to consider its verdicts.

Hall, 84, denies 20 historical allegations of rape and indecent assault involving two girls on various dates from 1976 to 1981.

He is serving a 30-month jail term after he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting 13 different girls, one as young as nine, over a period of nearly 20 years.

He was taken from custody last October and questioned about allegations from the two complainants who came forward after his conviction.

The Crown say Hall, from Wilmslow, was "a predatory and calculating opportunist" and the age of his two victims was not "a bar to their defilement".

Many of the encounters were at BBC television studios in Manchester - at Piccadilly and at Oxford Road - where Hall presented the corporation's regional news programme.

The defendant was said to have plied both girls with alcohol on both premises and then took advantage of them when they were aged between 13 and 16.

Apart from one alleged incident when Hall was said to have raped one of the complainants when she thought she was 12, the broadcaster - who was then in his mid-40s - said the sex with the girls in their mid-teens was consensual.

Both girls and their families are known to the defendant.

Hall chose not to give evidence from the witness box as his defence team questioned whether the case was "a persecution" rather than a prosecution.

At the beginning of the trial he admitted to indecently assaulting one of the complainants in her bedroom when she was aged at least 13. But he denied raping the same girl in a stable when she was aged under 13 as his defence said she had a false memory of an incident that never took place.

Hall was initially given a 15-month prison term last June but the Court of Appeal ruled the sentence was "inadequate" and it was doubled a month later.

The married father-of-two, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, was stripped of his OBE for broadcasting and charity in the wake of his convictions.

The former It's a Knockout presenter was a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century, and his eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.