Stuart Hall, the veteran BBC broadcaster, has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting 13 girls, one of them aged just nine.

By Sam Marsden , and agencies

10:48AM BST 02 May 2013

The former It’s A Knockout presenter admitted 14 historic counts of indecent assault at a court hearing last month, but they can only be revealed today after reporting restrictions were lifted.

His victims ranged in age from nine to 17, and the offences date from between 1968 and 1986.

Hall, 83, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, had previously strenuously denied any wrongdoing, saying the allegations against him were “pernicious, callous, cruel and above all spurious”.

In February, Hall strenuously denied the rape allegations against him saying they were “cruel” and “spurious”.

However, he entered the guilty pleas at Preston Crown Court on April 16.

The broadcaster’s barrister, Crispin Aylett QC, said: “The defendant is, of course, sorry for what he has done. Through me he wishes to apologise to his victims.

“He is not a man easily moved to self pity but he is only too aware his disgrace is complete.

The Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC, ordered Hall to sign the Sex Offenders Register and warned him that all sentencing options remained open, including prison.

A brief outline of the abuse suffered by three of his victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was outlined at an earlier hearing at Preston Magistrates’ Court.

In the 1980s Hall molested a nine-year-old girl by putting his hand up her clothing.

He also kissed a 13-year-old girl on the lips after he said to her: “People need to show thanks in other ways.

On another occasion in the 1970s he fondled the breast of a girl aged 16 or 17.

Hall was charged with those three offences after being arrested by Lancashire Police in December last year.

He was later charged with historic sex offences against another 10 girls.

The broadcaster was also charged with rape, but he pleaded not guilty to the allegation last month.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, told the court today that the “most senior level” of the Crown Prosecution Service had decided that the rape charge should lie on file.

Speaking after today’s hearing, Nazir Afzal, the chief Crown prosecutor for the North-West, said: “We prosecuted Stuart Hall because the evidence of the victims clearly established a pattern of behaviour that was unlawful and for which no innocent explanation could be offered.

“His victims did not know each other and almost two decades separated the first and last assaults but almost all of the victims, including one who was only nine at the time of the assault, provided strikingly similar accounts.

“Whether in public or private, Hall would first approach under friendly pretences and then bide his time until the victim was isolated. He can only be described as an opportunistic predator.

He added: “We have this week met with the woman who alleged that she had been raped by Stuart Hall, a charge which he has denied.

“The welfare of complainants is a top priority for us and we always take their concerns into account.

“In light of the guilty pleas already entered, the complainant no longer wishes to give evidence on the allegation of rape, and we have concluded that it would not be in the public interest to take steps to make her give evidence in court. As such, we will not be proceeding with this charge.

Hall, a father-of-two who has been married for 54 years, was a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for half a century and was awarded an OBE in the 2012 New Year Honours list.

His eccentric and erudite football match summaries made him a cult figure on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Hall was granted bail until he is sentenced on June 17.