John Leslie condemns 'trial by media' after new rape accusation

John Leslie, the former Blue Peter presenter has denied a new rape allegation made against him, saying it is "totally untrue" and describing it as "the mother of all stitch-ups".

Mr Leslie, 43, said that, five years after similar charges against him were dropped, he was once again being subjected to "trial by media". In an emotive statement outside his solicitor's office in London, a defiant Mr Leslie said it was with "a mixture of anger and distress" that he was "forced yet again to talk about lies about my private life".

"If I sound bitter," he said, "it is because I am".

The statement was reminiscent of scenes in 2003, when he was cleared on two counts of indecent assault against a 23-year-old actress in 1997, and told by a judge that he left the court "completely innocent and without a stain on my character" – an assertion he repeated yesterday.

Despite being cleared of all charges, Mr Leslie lost his £200,000 job as presenter of ITV's This Morning, and was forced to abandon his television career.

Mr Leslie confirmed he had voluntarily attended Teddington police station in south-west London on Monday afternoon, where he had been questioned by detectives for half an hour.

He was arrested on suspicion of a crime allegedly committed in November 1995 and released on bail.

"Lies that destroyed my public career in 2003 now threaten the private life which I have been happy to lead since then,"Mr Leslie said. I am accused of attacking a person 13 years ago. I do not even know who this person is. I am asked to recall events from one night in November 1995. I defy anyone to remember what they were doing 13 years ago on a particular night". It remains unclear as to why the latest allegations have surfaced now. Mr Leslie said he had "hoped the police would be able to conduct their investigation in confidence, and that I would not be prejudged".

"Regrettably," he added, "as has happened in the past, the details of a private police inquiry have been leaked to the press and I face trial by media.

"When, I ask, is this nightmare going to end? If it is considered acceptable to launch an investigation after 13 years, then why not 20 or 30 years?" he said.

"There was open season on me in 2003. I was subjected to an eight-month police inquiry. I was pilloried in the press ... Now, five years later, it all starts again. Another person, protected by the anonymity the law gives them, is able to drag my name through the mud".

"My mother and father are beside themselves with worry. So if I sound bitter it is because I am. There is little justice and no fairness in what I and my family have been and are being put through."

His statement finished, Mr Leslie turned toward his solicitor's office, describing the allegations as "the mother of all stitch-ups".

Mr Leslie was first accused of rape six years ago when a fellow television presenter named him as the man Ulrika Jonsson claimed to have been raped by in her autobiography. No charges were made.

At the time, his television career appeared to be going from strength to strength.

In recent years, Mr Leslie has carved out a successful career as a property developer and has moved back to his native Scotland.

A TV career

1965 Born John Leslie Stott in Edinburgh.

1987 Moves to London to pursue TV career.

1989 Becomes presenter of Blue Peter and continues for four years.

1993 Begins relationship with Catherine Zeta Jones.

1994 Entertainment reporter on This Morning.

1997 Replaces Bradley Walsh as the presenter of ITV's Wheel of Fortune.

2001 Takes over full-time on This Morning. Begins dating Abi Titmuss, a former nurse.

2002 No charges brought relating to claims of rape by Ulrika Jonsson. Accused of indecent assault against a 23-year-old actress in May 1997. Charges later dropped.

2008 Accused of a sexual assault committed in November 1995.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living