John Leslie: Former TV host cleared of sexual assault following 'year of hell'

UK

Former TV presenter John Leslie has been cleared of sexually assaulting a woman in an Edinburgh nightclub.

The ex-Blue Peter host said he had been through a “year of hell” since being accused of putting his hand down a bride-to-be’s trousers and touching her bottom as they danced on her hen night last June.

Following a two-day trial at the city’s Sheriff Court, Sheriff Adrian Cottam found him not proven and told him he was free to leave.

The Sheriff said he found it a “difficult decision” as the evidence from the bride-to-be “on its own appears to be a credible and reliable account”.

Giving evidence, Mr Leslie, on trial under his real name of John Stott, said: “There was no sexual assault.

“I did not put my hands down her trousers. It’s something I would never do and have never done. I’m upset at the allegation.”

Speaking outside the court after the verdict, Mr Leslie told reporters: “First of all, I’m obviously relieved at the court’s verdict today, clearing my name. Because I know I did nothing wrong that night a year ago and I’ve said so from the very beginning.

“CCTV and DNA prove that no assault took place. It’s now time to move on from this year of hell.

“I’d like to thank my mum, dad and my brother and those close to me for getting me through this ordeal. Without their support, I wouldn’t be here today. It’s been quite a process. That’s all I can say.”

Responding to a question on the verdict of not proven, his father, who was standing beside him, said emphatically: “It doesn’t leave any doubt, he is innocent, absolutely, positively innocent.”

During his evidence Mr Leslie said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, asked him to dance at the Atik nightclub and he did so in a “proper and very respectful manner” and once the dance ended she continued to dance with her friends “as if nothing had happened”.

He said when police told him of the allegation of sexual assault he replied “that’s just not happened” and told them to check the CCTV.

Mr Leslie said he asked the club owner to keep the footage and paid to have it enhanced, telling the court: “I knew that I had done nothing wrong, I knew the allegations were false and I wanted every angle possible to show it.”

On the first day of the trial his alleged victim gave evidence and said Mr Leslie put his hand down the back of her trousers and touched her bottom.

She cried in court and said she had nothing to gain by making the allegation up.

She said it had affected relationships with her friends and husband and that it had been “one of the toughest years of my life when it should have been the happiest”.

The court also heard from her friend who said she felt where Leslie had his hands was “inappropriate” and the bride-to-be looked “scared”.

The DJ that night gave evidence saying Leslie had been a “perfect gentleman” while dancing with the bride-to-be.

DNA experts said Leslie’s DNA was found on the back waistband of the trousers but that it could have been transferred by indirect contact.

PA

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