The woman allegedly groped by former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie today denied she wanted to meet him because of his history as a ‘sex pest’.
The alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was cross-examined today over her account of when the former star allegedly grabbed her breasts with both hands at a celebrity Christmas party 12 years ago.
The alleged non-consensual touching is said to have taken place at the then-called Soho Revue Bar, in Greek Street in London’s West End in 2008.
Leslie, 55, whose real name is John Leslie Stott, denies an allegation of sexual assault by non-consensual touching and is on trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court.
Gudrun Young, defending, said: ‘There was a massive scandal in 2002 when Mr Leslie’s name was linked with Ulrika Jonsson, his former girlfriend, when she said someone had raped her in her autobiography.
Former presenter John Leslie (pictured outside Southwark Crown Court with his father) allegedly gave a ‘grabbed a woman’s breasts with both hands’ at a party in 2008
‘It was front page news. Although she hadn’t named him or reported it to the police, Mr Leslie came to be associated with it – completely wrongly as it turned out. But despite that, it was feverishly covered in the press.
‘There was a period of time in the early 2000s you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without there being pages and pages of coverage about it.
‘I suggest what he became most famous and most known for was not being a TV celebrity but a disgraced former celebrity, someone who had a spectacular fall from grace.
‘There was not a word of truth in it as far as he is concerned. Any mention of him in the press was not about his TV work but about his lovelife.’
The alleged victim said: ‘I just think the best of people. I wanted to treat him with respect. I greeted a number of people with respect.
‘It’s an organic thing. I’m a people person, you treat everyone the same. I would do the same with everyone. I wouldn’t judge them if I hadn’t met them before.
‘I have no idea. It wasn’t like I must go and speak to John Leslie as I’ve heard he’s a sex pest and wanted to see for myself. I don’t see I would have done that.’
She was also asked about why no one told her they witnessed the alleged assault at the time or why no one suggested to her that she go to the police.
The woman said: ‘Twelve years ago it was different. I think we all know that.
‘It was disappointing [that no one came up to me afterwards]. It was so shocking. I was annoyed because it was so brazen, so unwarranted.
‘It’s really bizarre. It did happen and it is completely bizarre.’
She added: ‘If you think about culture recently so much has made it possible for women and men to speak out about their attackers and talk about what happened in the past.
‘Something has happened tangibly that has allowed people to speak about it.’
Today jurors heard the former TV presenter allegedly gave a ‘hearty laugh’ when he ‘grabbed the woman’s breasts with both hands at the party’.
Leslie, whose birth name is John Leslie Stott, denies an allegation of sexual assault by non-consensual touching
The former Blue Peter presenter denies claims that he groped a woman at a party 12 years ago
The alleged victim took to the witness box in front of the jury and told how she was left ‘shocked’ after the alleged incident.
She said: ‘I said, ”Hi, nice to meet you.” He shook my hand, and I was smiling, and then immediately thereafter he grabbed both of my breasts, one hand on each breast and laughed.
‘It was very confident. I was very shocked. It wasn’t a quick grab, it was a solid grab.
‘Then for a period for a few seconds, he let go and started laughing. I remember I was stunned.
‘I was annoyed I hadn’t said anything. I was shocked. He started laughing and then he walked off to the bar, and that was it.’
She added: ‘I was just shocked. I didn’t know what to do with myself. What do you do? You don’t expect that after you’ve shaken someone’s hand.
‘It wasn’t accidental. It was, ”I’m going to grab your boobs”. It didn’t hurt, but it was a really solid grab of my breasts. It wasn’t in a rush.
‘He seemed very happy. He laughed again after he did it – a hearty laugh – and then went off to the bar to get a drink. I was so taken aback.
‘I think I thought, what has happened? I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it.
‘I told my husband, my boyfriend at the time, because he was there. I told other friends.’
Leslie arriving to Southwark Crown Court on Monday for the opening of his trial
John Leslie and Ulrika Jonsson pictured presenting Big Breakfast back in 1993
The woman eventually decided to report the incident to the police in December 2017, in the wake of the MeToo movement.
She said: ‘I had seen in the news another allegation of sexual assault, it rang a bell with me, it was something different but it was similar in nature.
‘I talked to people before I did anything about it. People were coming out and they were honest about their own experiences.
‘I thought maybe I should say something. Maybe that would help others.
‘It’s difficult because I knew it wasn’t right, it wasn’t appropriate in 2008, but now I feel like it’s important to say something.
‘I’m older and wiser. I have children and I’ve taught them about boundaries.’
Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward told Southwark Crown Court: ‘This case concerns an allegation of sexual assault.
‘Back in 2008 the defendant attended a party at a nightclub in London.
‘The prosecution’s case is that shortly after he arrived, he grabbed the breasts of a young woman who had just introduced herself to him, quite deliberately, for a period of a few seconds, before walking off.
‘The young woman was stunned, and spoke to people about it at the time, but made no report to the police.
‘In 2017, she decided she had to report the matter. Although the defendant accepts being present at the party in question, he denies that he did any such thing.’
She added: ‘The defendant’s case is simply that it didn’t happen.
‘He says he didn’t behave, as far as he can remember, in the way that is described. He says his memory is vague.
‘He says he certainly didn’t behave in the way that she suggests. This is about whether it did or didn’t happen.’
During the trial, Ms Ledward asked the woman: ‘You describe yourself as being stunned. As far as you are aware, did your facial expression change?’
The witness replied: ‘I was so taken aback by it really.I do not know whether it did. I just thought ‘what has happened?.’
The woman said she had been in a group earlier but she was alone when Leslie allegedly grabbed her breasts and she did not think anyone had witnessed it.
She explained that she confided what happened to others at the party, but no one suggested to her that she report it to the police, nor did she think to do so.
She admitted: ‘At the time I didn’t really think it would go anywhere.’
During the trial Gudrun Young, defending, said to the complainant in cross-examination: ‘I am suggesting you are very keen to paint a picture of the two of you alone to try to explain why there were no witnesses.’
The woman replied: ‘I am only interested in what happened from my point of view.
‘It is clear to me there were people around, the only point I am making is that there were not piles of people around.
‘Who knows why no one saw it, it was only a few seconds.’
The former TV presenter, who was wearing a grey suit and a dark green striped tie, did not speak throughout the morning hearing. He was supported in the public gallery by his father, Lesley Stott.
Leslie presented Blue Peter between 1989 and 1994, and has also hosted Wheel Of Fortune and This Morning.
He was also the studio host for the first series of the UK version of Survivor, which aired on ITV in 2001.
The trial continues.