Stuart Hall (presenter)
Stuart Hall, photographed in 2010
|Born||James Stuart Hall
25 December 1929 
Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England
|Spouse(s)||Hazel (m. 1958)|
James Stuart Hall (born 25 December 1929) is a British former radio and television presenter. He presented regional news programmes for the BBC in North West England in the 1960s and 1970s, while becoming known nationally for presenting It's a Knockout and Jeux Sans Frontières. His later career mainly involved football reporting on BBC radio. He has been described as "eccentric, erudite, egotistical – a distinctive personality who could balance light entertainment buffoonery with sports and serious news".
In May 2012, after receiving an anonymous letter via a journalist, police investigated allegations that Hall had committed historical sexual offences against prepubescent and adolescent girls. He was charged with multiple sexual offences in December 2012 and January 2013. Although he initially denied any wrongdoing, he pleaded guilty in April 2013 to having indecently assaulted 13 girls, aged between 9 and 17 years old, between 1967 and 1986. When his guilty plea was made public in May 2013, the BBC terminated his contract and subsequently announced that it would launch an inquiry into his conduct at the corporation. On 17 June 2013, Hall was sentenced at Preston Crown Court to 15 months in prison. Following sentencing, the Attorney General's office received complaints that the sentence was unduly lenient. It was referred to the Court of Appeal for review and on 26 July his sentence was increased to 30 months. Further investigations took place and on 23 October 2013 the CPS announced that Hall was to be charged with a further 15 offences of rape and one of indecent assault upon two girls between 1976 and 1981.
In October 2013, it was announced that he would be stripped of his OBE after the award was formally "cancelled and annulled" by the Queen.
Hall was born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, the eldest son of baker James Stuart, and his Irish-born wife, Mary Hall. He was brought up in Hyde, Cheshire, and Glossop, Derbyshire, attending the local grammar school where he stayed after school hours for voluntary extra English language tuition. He directed plays when at school, and chaired its debating society.
While studying at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, he was offered a contract with Crystal Palace F.C., but turned it down because of the low wages.
Hall joined the BBC in 1959 as a general reporter on Radio Newsreel and a sports journalist on Sports Report. Between 1965 and 1990, he presented the BBC's regional news programmes for the North West produced in Manchester, originally called Look North, then Look North West and finally North West Tonight, alongside John Mundy. During the run of Nationwide (1969–83), he became known nationally through live link-ups.
Hall became particularly well known as the presenter of It's a Knockout between 1972 and 1982 and its European equivalent, Jeux Sans Frontières. In particular, during the latter programme, more usually providing the off-screen commentary, he would often be overcome by laughter at the slapstick antics of the competitors. This led to his becoming a popular subject for impersonation. After the series was cancelled, he presented the one-off Grand Knockout Tournament (also known as "It's a Royal Knockout") in 1987, and retained the rights to the programme and some costumes, which enabled him to host similar programmes and events in other parts of the world.
He also presented Quiz Ball (a football quiz) on BBC television during the early 1970s and he was the original host of the long-running sports quiz A Question of Sport (at that time only broadcast in the North of England); and in the late 1990s he presented Going, Going, Gone, an antiques quiz show for the BBC and provided the voice-over for God's Gift for Granada.
In 2008, he provided his voice for a special segment on Les Dennis's Home Video Heroes. In a typical episode, he would be shown a series of funny clips and there would be a 'laugh-o-meter' at the bottom of the screen measuring how much he laughed.
As a football reporter, Hall is associated with the phrase "The Beautiful Game", which he popularised, and which he reports he coined in his youth to describe football. As a lifelong Manchester City supporter he admired prolific goal-scorer Peter Doherty's style of playing and consequently used the phrase "The Beautiful Game" to describe Doherty.
The first football match that he reported on was Sheffield Wednesday versus Leicester City at Hillsborough in 1958, where the teams shared eight goals. His reports are unique, scattered with allusions to the works of William Shakespeare and all manner of linguistic tricks. Despite his love of Manchester City, he has affectionately referred to their former home ground Maine Road as the Theatre of Base Comedy, an allusion to City's Manchester rivals Manchester United's home ground Old Trafford, which is known as the "Theatre of Dreams".
During the 1970s, Hall developed a relationship with Liverpool F.C. manager Bill Shankly, and became a regular visitor to the Anfield 'Boot Room'. His relationship with Bob Paisley enabled him to pull off a coup, capturing the team's first European Cup final in 1977 in Rome. Smuggled into the ground as a club employee, Hall spent the match on the substitutes' bench wearing the No 14 shirt. This enabled him to get inside television footage of the team's 3–1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach. As a television presenter with Look North, he used to turn out for benefit matches, scoring twice against Gordon Banks in Eddie Hopkinson's testimonial at Bolton Wanderers F.C.
Hall worked as a football reporter for BBC Radio 5 Live for some years. On 10 December 2009 Radio 5 Live presented a special programme, Stuart Hall Night, broadcast live from the City of Manchester Stadium.
Prosecution and conviction
In May 2012, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a journalist and regular columnist for The Independent, received an anonymous three-page letter alleging that Hall had groomed and sexually abused the writer while she was a schoolgirl in the 1970s. The writer stated that she had been motivated to disclose her experiences by the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal and by her anger at Hall's appointment as an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours. Alibhai-Brown passed the letter to Ealing police, who in turn sent it on to Lancashire Constabulary, who then began an investigation.
On 5 December 2012, police arrested Hall and charged him with three historical counts of indecent assault, involving a 16- or 17-year-old girl in 1974, a 9-year-old girl in 1983, and a 13-year-old girl in 1984. Released on bail, he initially denied any wrongdoing, issuing a statement through his solicitor that he was "innocent of these charges". When he appeared at Preston Magistrates Court on 7 January 2013, he pleaded not guilty to all three charges. The prosecutor argued that the issues concerned were serious enough that Hall should stand trial at Crown Court, to which the defence did not object. Hall was released on bail on condition that he remained resident at his home address and had no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 17.
Media coverage of the case led to more women coming forward to state that Hall had also sexually abused them. On 22 January 2013, he was charged with raping a 22-year-old woman in 1976 and indecently assaulting 10 more girls, then aged from 9 to 17 years old, between 1967 and 1986. Speaking to reporters after an appearance at Preston Magistrates Court on 7 February 2013, Hall again denied any wrongdoing, calling the charges "pernicious, callous, cruel and, above all, spurious".
At a pre-trial hearing at Preston Crown Court on 16 April 2013, Hall pleaded guilty to 14 charges of indecent assault involving 13 girls aged between 9 and 17 years old. He was released on bail pending sentencing on 17 June. Reporting restrictions prevented the media from making the news public until 2 May 2013, when the Crown Prosecution Service elected not to pursue the rape charge or three other indecent assault charges relating to the same complainant, who had decided not to give evidence. Hall made a statement through his barrister, issuing an "unreserved apology" to his victims.
When the news of Hall's guilty plea became public, the BBC immediately terminated his contract and stated: "The BBC is appalled by the disgraceful actions of Stuart Hall and we would like to express our sympathy to his victims." Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, initially announced that Dame Janet Smith would extend her inquiry into the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal to include Hall's sex offences. The BBC subsequently decided to launch a separate inquiry headed by a different individual.
Land Registry records revealed that on 22 February 2013, Hall transferred his home, which he and his wife Hazel had owned jointly since 1981, into his wife's sole name. Although he claimed that he was getting his financial affairs in order because of a heart condition that left him at risk of sudden death, lawyers acting for his victims said they would seek a court order to nullify the transfer of the property, worth an estimated £1.2 million, on the basis that he had relinquished ownership to avoid compensation claims.
At Preston Crown Court on 17 June 2013, Judge Anthony Russell QC sentenced Hall to 15 months in prison. Later the same day, the attorney general's office announced that it had received complaints that the sentence was "unduly lenient." Shadow attorney general, Labour Party MP Emily Thornberry, stated that she believed Hall deserved a longer sentence given the age of his victims and the fact that he had publicly denied the offences at first. The attorney general subsequently referred the sentence to the Court of Appeal for review. On 26 July Hall's sentence was increased to 30 months.
In July 2013, the media reported that 17 women were preparing to launch civil claims against Hall and the BBC, on whose premises a number of sexual assaults had allegedly taken place. Lawyers for the women confirmed that several of the claims related to alleged offences that were not part of Hall's criminal prosecution.
On 15 July 2013, Lancashire police confirmed that five new allegations of rape and sexual assault had been made against Hall, including the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl. These investigations resulted in a further 16 charges of rape and indecent assault being laid against Hall in October 2013. On 6 November 2013 he appeared in court in relation to these charges, but did not make any plea. He made a further appearance in court on 29 November, his trial is due to start in May 2014.
Private life and honours
Hall married Hazel on 1 March 1958 and lives in Wilmslow, Cheshire. The couple's first son, Nicholas, died shortly after birth because of a heart defect. They went on to have a daughter, Francesca, and a son, Daniel. They now have four grandchildren. Hall owns an extensive collection of clocks, including one that belonged to Napoleon.
Hall was appointed as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting and charity, but the honour was formally annulled by the Queen in October 2013, due to his conviction for sex offences.
- Stuart Hall (2000). Heaven and Hall: a prodigal life. ISBN 0-563-53811-2.
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- Mike Dickson (4 January 2008). "Stuart Hall, the knockout king of the radio, has fond memories of Newcastle boss Allardyce". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Michael Henderson (28 July 2007). "Stuart Hall enjoying time of his life". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Stuart Hall". TV Cream. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- Harper, Nick (2 May 2003). "Stuart Hall". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2011. "The player I fell in love with and who inspired me to coin the phrase "the beautiful game" was Peter Doherty, an inside forward, my first hero."
- City will be back, BBC Sport, 22 May 2001.
- Alibhai-Brown, Yasmin (3 May 2013). "How I exposed Stuart Hall's sex abuse: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the letter that kick-started the investigation". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- "Stuart Hall charged with indecent assaults". BBC News. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
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- "Stuart Hall case: 'Pattern at BBC of turning blind eye to abuse’". The Daily Telegraph. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "Broadcaster Stuart Hall charged with rape". BBC News. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Stuart Hall charged with rape and indecent assault". ITV. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- "Stuart Hall admits to sexual abuse of girls". The Guardian. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Stuart Hall pleads guilty to child sex abuse". Channel 4 News. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "BBC inquiry must answer Stuart Hall claims, says Lord Patten". BBC News. 5 May 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Stuart Hall: BBC to hold separate conduct inquiry". BBC News. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Stuart Hall accused of dodging payout for abuse victims". The Daily Telegraph. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Stuart Hall put home in wife's name 'to avoid payouts to victims'". The Guardian. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- http://www.crimeline.info/case/r-v-stuart-hall Judge's sentencing statement
- "Stuart Hall jailed for 15 months for sex assaults". BBC News. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013.
- "Stuart Hall sex attack sentence to be reviewed". BBC News. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- BBC News, Stuart Hall jail term doubled by Court of Appeal, 26 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013
- "Stuart Hall faces flood of compensation claims". Cheshire Today. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- "Stuart Hall faces new rape allegations". Daily Telegraph. 15 July 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- "I have a cupboard of rattling skeletons, boasted Stuart Hall". Daily Express. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Child sex shame of TV's Stuart Hall, a vile predator". Daily Express. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "All-party backing for 'youth icon' Hall". BBC News. 11 February 1999. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2011.
- "Stuart Hall is made an OBE by Queen for services to broadcasting and charity". BBC Sport. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- The London Gazette: . 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
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