Veteran broadcaster Stuart Hall has been sentenced to 15 months in prison after admitting indecently assaulting 13 girls as young as nine between 1967 and 1986.

Hall, 83, of Wilmslow, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to 14 offences relating to 13 girls aged between nine and 17. He had denied the charges for months at Preston Magistrates Court.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) described the former It's A Knockout presenter and football commentator as an "opportunistic predator" after he admitted molesting a nine-year-old girl by putting his hand up her dress, digitally penetrating a 13-year-old girl and kissing and fondling his other victims.

One count of rape and three other indecent assaults will lie on his file.

Upon sentencing Judge Anthony Russell QC, told how there was "a darker side" Hall.

He added: "Those who admired you for these qualities and the general public now know that there is a darker side to you, one hidden from the public view until now - and a side which you were able to conceal taking advantage of your status as a well-liked celebrity.

"Several of these cases reveal an abuse of power by you because your status gave you an influence and standing which you abused."

The court heard how he assaulted three of his victims while giving them elocution lessons, one at the BBC studios and one in his car as he drove them home. He also invited one 10-year-old victim to swim at his house wearing only an It's A Knock-Out T-shirt and gave her champagne to drink.

The court heard that he was a friend of the parents of his youngest victim - a nine-year-old girl. He groped while she slept at her home.

Hall had previously denied the "pernicious, callous, cruel and spurious" accusations against him. He described his victims as liars and accused them of coming forward because of a "vendetta going on against people in the public eye".

He said that some of his victims were "making things up for sensationalism".

Hall said he wished to apologise to his victims after he pleaded guilty.

His disgrace is complete

His lawyers, Brabners Chaffe Street, said: "Mr Hall deeply and sincerely regrets his actions. He wishes to issue an unreserved apology to the individuals concerned.

"He now accepts his behaviour and actions were completely wrong and he is very remorseful.

His barrister, Crispin Aylett QC, said: "He is not a man easily moved to self-pity but he is all too aware that his disgrace is complete."

Retired High Court judge Dame Linda Dobbs will lead an investigation into Hall's actions while at the BBC after it emerged he assaulted one child at the corporation's studios.

The BBC said they were "appalled" that some of Hall's crimes took place in connection with his work at the corporation and offer an unreserved apology to his victims.

Det Supt Neil Esseen, of Lancashire Constabulary's Force Major Investigation Team, said: "I welcome today's sentence imposed by the court and I hope that it will help the victims in this case move forward with their lives.

"I would like once again to commend the victims in this case for having the courage to come forward. They have lived with what happened for a long period of time and it cannot have been easy for them to come forward, especially as when they did so, they did not know there were others who had also suffered abuse.

Hall was best known for his distinctive commentating style and was a broadcaster for 50 years. In December 2011 he was awarded an OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list for services to broadcasting and charity.