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John Leslie tells court he ‘never crossed the line’

John Leslie has told a court he knows the line between behaving gregariously and criminal behaviour and has “never crossed it”.

The 55-year-old presenter from Edinburgh denies grabbing a woman’s breasts at a Christmas party in London’s West End on 5 December in 2008.

On day four of his trial at Southwark Crown Court, Leslie – whose full name is John Leslie Stott – described himself as a “wounded animal” and “still scarred” following indecent assault charges which were made against him in 2003, but later dropped.

He has said he became depressed and suicidal when he “lost everything” after being wrongly named live on television in relation to a rape claim.

John Leslie at Southwark Crown Court in August. Pic: George Cracknell Wright/LNP/Shutterstock
Image: The presenter denies all charges. Pic: George Cracknell Wright/LNP/Shutterstock

He told the jury it was because of this that he would have felt paranoid when at any social event around the time of the 2008 allegation.

He has previously told the court he does not specifically remember attending the party.

Leslie told the prosecution he was not exaggerating his paranoia at the time, saying: “If you had any idea of what I went through in 2003 (onwards), it didn’t stop because of the court case.

“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.”

Earlier this week, a friend of the complainant who was at the party told the court that one of Leslie’s friends had later approached her at the event and apologised saying the presenter sometimes got “over-excited”.

When asked by the prosecution if he was indeed excited to be at the party, Leslie answered: “Excited, but still paranoid.”

Leslie also told the court: “I would never have done what she suggested”, and refuted suggestions he touched her breasts “in jest” or to “test boundaries”.

He said: “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 court also heard evidence from ex-Blue Peter presenter Anthea Turner who said John Leslie was “incredibly respectful” to women in her experience, adding that he was “absolutely adored” by all the women who worked with him on the children’s show.

Another former Blue Peter presenter – Diane Louise Jordan – described Leslie as a “gentleman” and told the court she had never seen him behave inappropriately with any women.

A third Blue Peter presenter, Yvette Fielding, who appeared via video link, said she had never seen Leslie acting inappropriately, either socially or professionally.

She told the court: “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.”

The court has been told the unnamed complainant did not take the matter to the police at the time as she did not think it would be taken seriously but decided to contact officers in 2017 after the #MeToo campaign had become prominent.

In response to suggestions from the defence team that the complainant had been after “her own MeToo moment”, the prosecution 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”.

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Using his official name, prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward: “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.”

Leslie denied this.

He says it is due to the earlier assault allegations that the tabloid press had made him out to be an “aggressive, sexual monster”, a portrayal he strongly rejects.

Leslie appeared on Blue Peter between 1989 and 1994 and also presented Wheel Of Fortune and This Morning.

The trial is set to last three weeks.

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