Justin Lee Collins' ex-girlfriend denies £20,000 blackmail attempt


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The Independent Online

The ex-girlfriend of Justin Lee Collins today denied attempting to blackmail the comedian after they broke up.

Anna Larke, 38, alleges Collins harassed and assaulted her during their nine-month relationship.

Today Sonia Woodley QC, defending Collins, alleged Miss Larke told the former host of The Friday Night Project she would report him to police unless he gave her £20,000 after he refused to get back with her.

Ms Woodley said: "You kept texting him and you threatened to go to the police when you realised he wasn't coming back.

"You told him, 'Give me £20,000 or I'm going to hurt you and I'm going to go to the police'.

"You wanted money. Is that what part of this case is about, Anna?"

Miss Larke replied: "Oh my god, that's absolute lies. I've never said that."

The court heard the former video games public relations worker was not in work at the time of the break-up.

Ms Woodley told St Albans Crown Court that Collins, 38, texted Miss Larke back saying: "I've offered you all sorts of help but I'm not getting involved in blackmail."

Miss Larke told the court: "If I had just wanted money I would have gone straight to the press."

She admitted telling police she threatened to go to PR guru Max Clifford with her story.

"I don't know why I did that," she said in the witness box.

Collins, of Kew, south-west London, denies a single charge of harassment by causing Miss Larke fear of violence.

Miss Larke claims the comic subjected her to a campaign of physical and emotional abuse during their nine-month relationship. He allegedly made her write down her entire sexual history and told her to throw away DVDs which starred her favourite actors because he feared she was attracted to them.

Giving evidence today, Miss Larke's mother Penelope told the court her daughter would call her and tell her that Collins smacked and swore at her.

Mrs Larke, who is originally from Greece, said her daughter seemed happy at the start of the relationship but things changed when she moved to London to live with the comic.

"I could tell from her voice. I asked her, 'Are you happy darling?'. She said, 'I'm okay mum ... He has a bad temper and everything has to be perfect'," Mrs Larke said.

She said her daughter told her Collins pressured her to tell him about her sexual past.

"I said it wasn't very decent of him to ask such personal questions but she said he said to her, 'If you don't tell me you can f*** off out of my house," Mrs Larke said.

She added: "He called her all the names under the sun, horrible names."

Miss Larke also told her mother that Collins had smacked her on the face but asked her to keep it secret, Mrs Larke said.

"She said, 'Mum, I have to tell you something, you have to promise me first that you won't say anything to anybody', and then she said he smacked her and swears at her. She told me he smacked her in the private parts.

"I told her it wasn't a very healthy relationship and that she should just pack her bags and come home."

Mrs Larke's husband Jeremy told the court it was like "walking on eggshells" when their daughter visited the family home while she was in the relationship with Collins.

Mr Larke said he asked her about reddish marks he noticed on her face and arms but she dismissed them. He said she would change the subject if they asked about the relationship.

Her moods would be "up and down" and she seemed "depressed", Mr Larke added.

Following the split he described his daughter as being "completely irrational and torn apart".

"She said there had been a fiery end to it," Mr Larke said.

He said his daughter told them Collins had "grabbed her hair, dragged her around the room and smacked her in the private parts" during a trip to America.

"It was a great shock to me. I can't believe he would beat her up. I am very upset about it," he told the court.

However both parents told the court Miss Larke, a recovering alcoholic, told them she did not drink while she was in the relationship with the comic.

Mrs Larke said: "He told her if he saw her with a sip of wine then she would be out the door."

Her daughter has told the court she had agreed to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings because Collins asked her to.

The court has also heard that Collins, on receiving a barrage of texts from Miss Larke following the break-up, telephoned Mr Larke and told him his daughter need expert help and should attend AA meetings.

The case was adjourned until Tuesday morning.