John Leslie returned to the This Morning sofa following his sexual misconduct acquittal, telling hosts Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield that he’d been left “in bits”.
Last month, the former Blue Peter host was cleared of sexually assaulting a woman in an Edinburgh nightclub, accused of putting his hand down a bride-to-be’s trousers and touching her bottom as they danced on her hen night in June 2017.
Following a two-day trial, Leslie was told he was free to leave, after Sheriff Adrian Cottam said he found it a “difficult decision” as the evidence from the bride-to-be, who cannot be named for legal reasons, “on its own appears to be credible and reliable account”.
“It’s about surviving, and keeping going. I’m in bits at the moment,” Leslie told Willoughby and Schofield. “It was a horrible experience for everybody. It’s a case of putting the bits back together again and, hopefully, I can come through this.”
“I can’t believe I’m back here to be honest. It’s been an emotional day knowing that I was coming on the show and thanks for inviting me on,” he said. “But even this building [the former BBC TV Centre] was obviously where my career started all those years ago and This Morning where my career ended. So it’s been quite a journey.”
It was the first time Leslie had appeared on the This Morning sofa in 16 years, with the former host having been dismissed from the programme in 2002 after allegations of sexual offences circulated in the press.
He was later charged in June 2003 with assaulting a woman twice, but the charges were dropped after new information about the alleged victim came to light. In November 2015, he was dismissed from his job on Radio Forth while police investigated new claims of sexual assault, with the investigation being dropped several months later.
Leslie claimed that his reputation had led him to “become a target” for allegations. “I just wanted a quiet life, and was living away from the media, but I just feel my reputation follows me around,” he said. “I became a kind of target and when I was out in public, things happened and people made allegations and stuff and I never got the chance to speak out. So, when it happened this time I felt enough is enough, it has to stop.”
When asked whether individuals accused of sexual assault should remain anonymous until proven guilty, he replied: “I am living proof that it’s got to stop. You can’t have your life ruined on the back of false allegations. I’m all for one being named if being charged, but I don’t think you should be named if found not guilty. There has to be a level of proof before your life is ruined.”
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