John Leslie tells sex assault trial he ‘never crossed' the line between gregarious and criminal behaviour

Presenter claims to have felt ‘paranoid’ in social settings after 2003

Clea Skopeliti
Thursday 15 October 2020 16:57
The 55-year-old said he doesn't recall whether he attended the party in 2008.jpg
The 55-year-old said he doesn't recall whether he attended the party in 2008.jpg

John Leslie, the former Blue Peter presenter, has denied grabbing a woman’s breasts at a party, saying he knows the line between “gregarious” and criminal behaviour and has "never crossed it".

The alleged incident is said to have taken place at a Christmas party in the West End of London in 2008. 

Mr Leslie, who had charges of indecent assault dropped against him in 2003, said he had felt “paranoid” and “scarred” ever since, and would have felt so at the Soho party – which he has also said he is unable to remember attending.

The presenter told Southwark Crown Court: "If you had any idea of what I went through in 2003 (onwards), it didn't stop because of the court case."

He added: "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."

The 55-year-old, whose full name is John Leslie Stott, went on to describe himself as a "wounded animal" and "still scarred".

However, the prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward suggested he was exaggerating how paranoid he had felt around socialising at the time of the alleged incident. Mr Leslie denied this.

The presenter conceded that he may have felt “excited” to attend the party, but that he still would have felt paranoid.

He maintained that he doesn’t remember the party: "I'm sorry I cannot remember being there (at the party) but I would never have done what she suggested."

When asked if he had ever touched someone’s breasts either “in jest” or to “test boundaries”, he strongly denied having done either.

"No. 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," Mr Leslie said.

Ms Ledward said Mr Leslie’s defence team had hinted that her client had been after “her own MeToo moment” in bringing the charge against Mr Leslie, and strongly rebuked any suggestion of this. 

She argued that for this to be true, either the complainant would have had to be lying and to have also lied to the people she had described the incident to at the time, or for them all to have “got together and invented this story”.

The prosecutor said: "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."

The presenter denied the accusation, saying he has "no idea what is going through (the complainant's) head".

A witness for the prosecution said a woman who was also at the 5 December party, who she thinks may have been a friend of Mr Leslie's, approached her after the alleged incident and apologised for his behaviour.

The witness told the court: "The gist was, 'sorry about John, he's very excited to be here, it's been a long time since he has been to a party like this and sometimes he just gets over-excited and goes over the top'."

Mr Leslie presented Blue Peter between 1989 to 1994 and has appeared on several television shows in his 30-year career.

The trial continues.