Leslie ‘never crossed line between behaving gregariously and criminal behaviour’

Former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie has insisted at his sex assault trial that he knows the line between behaving gregariously and criminal behaviour and has “never crossed it”.

The 55-year-old, from Edinburgh, also rejected a suggestion that he had exaggerated to the jury how paranoid he felt when socialising around the time of the 2008 allegation.

He denies grabbing a woman’s breasts at a Christmas party in London’s West End on December 5 that year.

On his second day in the witness box at Southwark Crown Court, Leslie said he did not remember attending the party but that he had gone to some events in the years that followed the dropping of indecent assault charges against him in 2003.

John Leslie
John Leslie

On Wednesday, Leslie had told the jury that around the time of the alleged assault in 2008, he would have been “paranoid” on any social outing.

Cross-examining him on Thursday, prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward suggested Leslie had exaggerated how paranoid he was.

Leslie said: “If you had any idea of what I went through in 2003 (onwards), it didn’t stop because of the court case.”

He added: “It’s 17 years. It just is relentless. They are not stopping, the tabloid press. This is what they did. I’m not recovered, I’m not better. I’m not the person I used to be. I’m not a recluse, I grant you.”

Leslie went on to describe himself as a “wounded animal” and “still scarred”.

The barrister suggested to him that apart from being paranoid, he might also have been excited to attend the event that Christmas.

He replied: “Excited, but still paranoid.”

Asked about the specific allegation, Leslie said: “I’m sorry I cannot remember being there (at the party) but I would never have done what she suggested.”

Asked if he had touched someone’s breasts “in jest” or to “test boundaries”, he replied: “No.

“There is a big line between being a bit of a gregarious character and criminal behaviour. I know the line and I have never crossed it.”

The prosecutor said it had been suggested by Leslie’s defence team that the complainant had been after “her own MeToo moment”, but Ms Ledward said that would require either the complainant to be lying and to have lied to the people she told at the time, or for all of them to have “got together and invented this story”.

Addressing the defendant, whose full name is John Leslie Stott, she added: “I’m going to suggest, Mr Stott, that (the complainant) told the truth and that back in 2008, probably over-excited and disinhibited at the party because you didn’t get out much, you did exactly what she said.”

He denied this and said he had “no idea what is going through (the complainant’s) head”.

Leslie has told the court how he had become depressed and suicidal when he “lost everything” after being wrongly named live on television in relation to a rape claim, and after the 2003 charges which were subsequently dropped.

The jury has heard that a “raft” of allegations followed, with Leslie saying the tabloid press had made him out to be an “aggressive, sexual monster”, something he strongly rejects.

The trial continues.