Australian-born entertainer Rolf Harris has been sentenced in London to five years and nine months in prison for the sexual abuse of young girls.

Following the sentence pronounced on Friday, the 84-year-old now faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars.

Just hours after Harris was taken to jail, the sentence was referred to the British attorney general's office for investigation as being unduly lenient.

Harris is a British entertainment stalwart who hosted television shows in the 1970s, and even painted an official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, performing at her Diamond Jubilee concert.

He was arrested as part of a police investigation into historic sexual abuse by a number of celebrities, including the late BBC host Jimmy Savile.

Girls aged from seven

Harris was convicted of 12 counts of abuse that took place from the 1960s to the 1980s that involved girls as young as seven or eight.

Harris's lawyer, Sonia Woodley, citing his age and ill health, argued he had already been punished and shamed enough.

But British Judge Nigel Sweeny said Harris showed no remorse for what he described as a breach of trust.

Speaking outside court, the representative of Harris's youngest victim read out a letter written by the victim's brother.

"After these cameras have been dismantled and the media circus has rolled on to another town, it will still be with her as it will with the other girls," she said.

Harris's trial shocked Britain and Australia and has prompted new allegations against him to emerge.

Police are investigating the new claims.

Source: Agencies