John Leslie cleared of sex assault charge

Martin Evans
·3-min read
John Leslie has been cleared of sex assault
John Leslie has been cleared of sex assault

Former Blue Peter presenter, John Leslie, has walked free from court for a second time after a jury took just 23 minutes to clear him of a decade old sex assault allegation.

The 55-year-old wept as he was told by the judge that he could again leave court without a stain on his character.

Mr Leslie, who appeared on Blue Peter between 1989 and 1994, and went on to present Wheel of Fortune and This Morning, had been accused of grabbing a woman's breasts at a Christmas party in 2008.

But the jury of nine men and three women took less than half an hour to find him not guilty of the single charge.

Two years ago Mr Leslie was cleared of sex assault by the Edinburgh Sherrif's Court after being accused by another woman of groping her in a nightclub.

In 2002 his career and life unravelled after he was named by Matthew Wright on live television as the alleged rapist of Ulrika Jonsson.

Mr Wright later said it had been a mistake and Ms Jonsson refused to discuss the matter. 

Mr Leslie was never charged in connection with the allegation but his television career never recovered and the following year he was charged with assaulting a woman six years earlier.

The case was dropped however before it came to court and Mr Leslie, always vehemently denied any allegations against him.

In the latest incident a woman claimed Mr Leslie had grabbed her breasts before laughing when she met him at a Christmas party in 2008.

But he rejected the claim insisting if there had been any physical contact it had been accidental.

Mr Leslie, who appeared in court under his real name, John Stott, claimed he was a "million miles away" from the "aggressive sexual monster" that he had been portrayed as.

Anthea Turner and Diane-Louise Jordan supported John leslie at court
Anthea Turner and Diane-Louise Jordan supported John leslie at court

Former television colleagues, including Anthea Turner, Yvette Fielding, Diane-Louise Jordan and Fern Britton, all gave evidence on his behalf. 

Mr Leslie's barrister said he had been subjected to a media witch hunt since 2002 and his life had been blighted by unfounded allegations.

Addressing the jury, she said: "If you knew anything about him I would suggest the two things you would have talked about are Blue Peter and sexual impropriety of some sort since 2002.

"Yet he is, and remains, a man of good character. No convictions, no cautions. It has never been established that he has done anything wrong to anybody."

As the not guilty verdict was delivered at Southwark Crown Court, following a week long trial, Mr Leslie sobbed and nodded his thanks to the jurors.

Judge Deborah Taylor said: "Mr Stott, you for the second time leave this court without a stain on your character and I hope it will be the last time you have to attend."

Leslie's father Les Stott, who has attended court every day with his son for the past week, hugged him after he left the dock.

The prosecution had claimed that Mr Leslie had grabbed the woman in a "quite deliberate sexual assault" during a Christmas party in London's West End in December 2008.

But the court heard that the alleged victim did not report the incident at the time because she did not think it would be taken seriously.

She eventually went to the police three years ago in the wake of the Me Too movement.

Outlining the case during the trial, the prosecutor said: "The prosecution say this was no accidental touching, but a quite deliberate sexual assault.

"The defendant laughed again and then walked off as if what he had done was completely acceptable and was not something anyone was going to challenge him on."

But Mr Leslie had explained that his previous experiences had left him paranoid when he was in company and so it was "ludicrous" to suggest he would have acted in the way he was accused.