The extraordinary British child abuse scandal centered on the children’s entertainers of the 1970s took another dramatic turn today when Rolf Harris, the Australian cartoonist, singer and TV presenter was revealed to be the latest and most high profile celebrity to be arrested over historic sex abuse allegations by police from Operation Yewtree. The controversial task force - which has been criticised for consuming vast quantities of police time investigating historic crimes while current crimes go unsolved - was set up following hundreds of allegations of abuse against the BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile which emerged after his death last year.
Senior detectives have been investigating Harris, who painted an official portrait of the Queen in 2005, for more than four months.
Harris vehemently denies any wrongdoing.
Media have been camped outside his home since he was first questioned several weeks ago, and his name has been circulating on the internet for some time. Russell Brand was among a host of celebrities who named him online.
He was today named on the front page of the Sun and all other UK newspaper websites have now followed the tabloid’s lead.
The veteran entertainer who is well known to the Queen, having been made a CBE in the 2006 Queen’s birthday honours list, also serenaded the Queen at her Diamond Jubilee concert last year.
The "Jake the Peg" singer was first interviewed by detectives from Operation Yewtree in November but was only formally arrested at the end of last month.
The Sun used a classic Fleet Street ruse to preserve their scoop as long as possible, producing a dummy splash for its early regional editions this morning before naming Mr Harris as a Yewtree suspect in its final London edition.
Harris, 83, is the 11th man to be detained by the investigation. Others include pop star Gary Glitter, and publicist Max Clifford.
Operation Yewtree was set up after the death of Savile in 2011, when hundreds of sex abuse allegations came to light.
Harris remains a hugely popular entertainer and more than a million people tuned in on Wednesday night to watch Rolf’s Animal Clinic on Channel 5.