Ex-Blue Peter presenter John Leslie cleared of sexual assault at Christmas party

John Leslie court case

Former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie has been cleared of grabbing a woman's breasts at a Christmas party.

Leslie, 55, had been accused of groping the woman after shaking hands with her at the gathering in London's West End more than a decade ago.

But a jury of nine men and three women at Southwark Crown Court returned a not guilty verdict on Monday after just 23 minutes of deliberations, following a week-long trial.

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John Leslie

Hosted Blue Peter from 1989-1994.

Former Blue Peter presenter, John Leslie, 55, leaves Southwark Crown Court in London where he is on trial for sexual assault.
Former TV presenter John Leslie arrives at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, where he is charged with sexually assaulting a woman by putting his hand down her trousers as they danced at her hen night.
Former TV presenter John Leslie leaves Edinburgh Sheriff Court, with his father Lesley Stott (left), after being acquitted of sexually assaulting a woman in an Edinburgh nightclub.
John Leslie attends Blue Peter's Big Birthday, celebrating the show's 60th anniversary, at the BBC Philharmonic Studio at Media City UK, Salford. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
(Left to right) Anthea Turner, John Leslie, Diane-Louise Jordan, Tim Vincent, Katie Hill and Richard Bacon attend Blue Peter's Big Birthday, celebrating the show's 60th anniversary, at the BBC Philharmonic Studio at Media City UK, Salford. (Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)
KENT, ENGLAND - APRIL 20: John Leslie attends the Funeral of Caron Keating following her death from breast cancer last week, at Hever Church in Edenbridge on April 20, 2004 in Kent, England. Keating, a former Blue Peter host, died April 14 at her mother Gloria Hunniford's home in Sevenoaks with her family around her; she had fought a seven-year battle with the disease. (Photo by Steve Finn/Getty Images)
John Leslie, from the quiz show Wheel of Fortune and former Blue Peter presenter with his girlfriend Abi Titmuss, at the GQ Men Of The Year Awards, held in Leicester Square London. (Photo by Peter Jordan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
PA News 16/10/98 Past and present 'Blue Peter' presenters gathered to mark to programme's 40th anniversary: (back, from left) Peter Duncan, Christopher Wenner, Sarah Greene, John Leslie, Tim Vincent, Mark Curry, Tina Heath and Simon Groom; (middle, from left) Peter Purves, Leila Williams, Diane Louise Jordan, John Noakes and Valerie Singleton; (front, from left) Katy Hill, Stuart Miles, Konnie Huq and Richard Bacon. (Photo by Peter Jordan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
PA NES PHOTO 16/10/98 FORMER BLUE PETER PRESENTERS JOHN LESLIE AND DIANE LOUISE JORDAN IN LONDON TO CELBRATE THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OFTHE BBC CHILDREN'S PROGRAMME. (Photo by Peter Jordan - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Past and present Blue Peter presenters gathered together today (Friday), to mark the programme's 40th anniversary. (l/r top) Peter Duncan, Christopher Wenner, Sarah Greene, John Leslie, Tim Vincent, Mark Curry, Tina Heath and Simon Groom. (l/r middle) Leila Williams, Diane Louise Jordan, John Noakes, Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves. (l/r bottom) Katy Hill, Stuart Miles, Konnie Huq and Richard Bacon. Photo by Peter Jordan. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
Blue Peter presenters John Leslie and That's Life presenter Esther Rantzen with (left to right) Justine Johnson, 7, Rahul Bery, 8, and Jamie Buckingham, 10, at the launch of a telephone helpline for the victims of bullying at the BT tower. (Photo by Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Blue Peter presenter John Leslie with models Kate Charman and Helen Greenwood launching the search for the new Cadbury's Flake girl. (Photo by Tony Harris - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Actress Catherine Zeta Jone arrives with BBC's Blue Peter presenter John Leslie for the celebrity premiere of Bram Stoker's Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, at the Odeon Leicester Square cinema in London. (Photo by Fiona Hanson - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
PRESENTERS (L/R) DIANE-LOUISE JORDAN, YVETTE FIELDING AND JOHN LESLIE UNVEILING DETAILS OF THE 1991 BLUE PETER CHRISTMAS APPEAL. THIS YEARS APPEAL INVOLVES THE COLLECTION OF EVERYDAY HOUSEHOLD ITEMS THAT HAVE BEEN DISCARDED. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
BBC Television 'Blue Peter' presenters John Leslie, Yvette Fielding and Diane-Louise Jordan assist blind Lissa Hermans, 9, from Enfield, pictured while recording 'I am in Love with the World' in aid of Blue Peter's Romanian Orphan Appeal. (Photo by Adam Butler - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Blue Peter's television hosts John Leslie, Yvette Fielding and Diane-Louise Jordan, UK, circa 1990. (Photo by Tim Roney/Getty Images)
Portrait of presenters John Leslie, photographed for Radio Times in connection with the children's television series 'Blue Peter', May 19th 1989. (Photo by Jeremy Grayson/Radio Times/Getty Images)
Loft scot John Leslie, 24, 6ft 41/2ins, who tomorrow becomes the new man in the lives of Blue Peter presenters Yvette Fielding (centre) and Karan Keating, replacing Mark Curry. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
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Leslie became tearful and rubbed his eyes before nodding in thanks towards the jury after the verdict was given.

The Scot had told the jury he could not remember being at the party, and described the single allegation of sexual assault from December 5 2008 as "crazy" and "ludicrous".

Giving evidence, he said: "I would not have touched her like some mannequin and walked off."

He told the jury he had previously been made out to be an "aggressive, sexual monster" by the tabloid press, as he denied ever assaulting any woman, saying it is "not in my nature".

Leslie said his life changed completely in 2002 when he was wrongly identified on live television as the unnamed alleged rapist in his former girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson's autobiography.

Presenter Matthew Wright later apologised, saying he named him in error, the court was told.

Ms Jonsson has never made any complaint to police, the jury heard.

Leslie, from Edinburgh, said there had never been any sexual assault allegations against him before his name was wrongly linked to the book, and described the fallout as "Armageddon".

He said the tabloids were "gunning for me", adding "they decided I was their man", and there had been "adverts for women to come forward with allegations".

In 2003, two charges of indecent assault against him made by one woman were dropped, and not guilty verdicts recorded at the same London court where he faced trial this year.

Former Blue Peter presenters Diane Louise Jordan (left) and Anthea Turner gave evidence n support of their ex-colleague (Yui Mok/PA)
Former Blue Peter presenters Diane Louise Jordan (left) and Anthea Turner gave evidence in support of their former colleague (Yui Mok/PA)

The court also heard he was arrested and interviewed by police in 2008 regarding an allegation of rape and indecent assault said to have happened in 1995, but there was insufficient evidence to charge and no further action was taken.

After Monday's verdict, 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."

Appearing under his full name John Leslie Stott, he told the jury he had become reclusive, paranoid, depressed and suicidal amid the allegations, saying: "I lost everything."

He was supported during the trial by friends and former Blue Peter colleagues Anthea Turner, Diane Louise Jordan, Yvette Fielding and ex-This Morning co-host Fern Britton, all of whom gave character references.

Turner said he was "absolutely adored" by women who worked with him and "incredibly respectful", while Britton said the allegation did not "sound like the man that I know in the slightest".

His father Les Stott attended every day of the trial, and the men hugged after he left the dock.

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