LONDON: Rolf Harris, the veteran Australian artist and entertainer, will stand trial in April accused of indecently assaulting two underage girls in the 1980s, a London court heard Monday.

The 83-year-old, who has long been a fixture on British television, faces nine counts of indecent assault, as well as four counts of making indecent images of children last year. Harris was not in court for the procedural hearing at the Old Bailey central criminal court, but his lawyer has previously indicated he would plead not guilty. A formal plea hearing was set for January 14 and a trial date set for April 30.

Harris is one of several older celebrities in Britain arrested under Operation Yewtree, the police probe into historical abuse set up in the wake of revelations that the late BBC star Jimmy Savile was a prolific sex offender.

The charges against Harris are not connected to Savile. Harris is accused of six counts of indecent assault relating to a girl aged between 15 and 16 for incidents during 1980 and 1981, and three relating to a girl aged 14 in 1986. He is further accused of four counts of making indecent images of children between March and July 2012.

Harris, who moved to England in 1952, was a popular television presenter, artists and musician for decades. He painted an 80th birthday portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in 2005 and has received honours from both Britain and Australia. –AFP

As a singer, he topped the Australian charts in 1960 with "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" and the British charts in 1969 with "Two Little Boys". AFP