Former Blue Peter presenter Anthea Turner has described her ex-colleague John Leslie as “incredibly respectful” as she and other former colleagues gave evidence at his sex assault trial.
Turner, who has known the Scottish former television host since the 1980s, said if there had been “any stories” about him over the years she would have known about them but, as far as she was concerned, there were none.
Leslie, 55 and with an address in Edinburgh, denies one count of sexual assault, accused of grabbing a woman’s breasts at a Christmas party in London’s West End on December 5 2008.
Turner gave evidence on his character alongside fellow presenters Diane-Louise Jordan and Yvette Fielding.
Turner, who worked with him on the popular children’s television show Blue Peter, said he was “absolutely adored” by women who worked with him, and said she found it “very important” to give evidence.
She told the jury at Southwark Crown Court she knows Leslie “incredibly well”.
She said: “I would just like to mention, when he asked me to come I wanted to be here. This is very important.”
Asked about his behaviour around women she said: “I am a woman, he was always respectful, incredibly respectful, with myself.”
Turner said the team at Blue Peter had been largely female and “everybody loved him”, adding that he was “absolutely adored by every woman I knew that worked with him”.
On the 2008 allegation, she said: “This is not the man that I know, not at all.”
The court has heard Leslie was wrongly named in 2002 by television host Matthew Wright as the unnamed person accused of rape in Ulrika Jonsson’s autobiography.
A year later he faced indecent assault charges against one woman, but these were dropped.
Turner described “two Johns”, describing the Leslie she first knew as “the life and soul of the party”, adding that after the allegations she and others around him saw him “crumple”.
Jordan, who has also presented Songs Of Praise, said she had requested to give evidence at the trial “because I feel so strongly about this”.
Describing him as a “gentleman”, she added that he was like a “big brother”.
She said he had gone from being an “exuberant” person to “like a shell” after allegations were made against him.
On his behaviour towards women, she said: “I have never, ever, ever seen John behave in any way inappropriately with any woman.”
Fielding, giving evidence via videolink, said in all the time she had spent with him, including socially, she had never seen him acting inappropriately.
She said: “Never ever in the time that I have known John have I ever seen him behave in a disrespectful way towards any woman or man.”
Character evidence was also heard from Leslie’s former This Morning co-host Fern Britton.
In a statement read to the court, she said: “I can confidently say that the allegations that have been made about John do not sound like the man that I know in the slightest.”
The trial was adjourned until 10.30am on Friday.