John Leslie ‘laughed after groping woman at West End celebrity party’

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Former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie “laughed” after groping a woman he had never met as he arrived at a celebrity party in London’s West End, a court heard.

The 55-year-old former host of This Morning and Wheel of Fortune is accused of openly grabbing the woman’s breasts when she introduced herself, before alleged walking away “as if what he had done was completely acceptable”.

The alleged attack happened in December 2008 at a Christmas party being thrown at a West End bar.

Leslie, who is now on trial at Southwark crown court, denies groping the woman and will say any contact with the woman was accidental, jurors heard.

“This case concerns an allegation of sexual assault back in 2008, when the defendant attended a party at a nightclub in London”, said prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward.

“Shortly after he arrived, he grabbed the breasts of the young woman who had just introduced herself.”

She said the alleged victim “was stunned and spoke to people about it at the time”, but had only come forward to police in 2017 after being spurred on by the #MeToo movement.

Leslie was 43 at the time he is accused of carrying out the sexual assault, on a woman who was then in her 30s.

“He was and still is well-known, having spent part of his career on the TV programme Blue Peter and later on the morning television show This Morning », said Ms Ledward.

Jurors heard Leslie’s fellow Blue Peter presenters Yvette Fielding, Diane-Louise Jordan, and Anthea Turner, as well as This Morning co-host Fern Britton, may be among the witnesses in the criminal trial.

Ms Ledward said the alleged victim was speaking to other guests at the party at around 9pm when she recognised Leslie and went to introduce herself.

“She shook his hand as she explained who she was, he smiled back and without saying anything further grabbed both of her breasts with both of his hands and laughed, looking directly at her as he did so.

The woman says the incident lasted around three seconds, before Leslie “laughed again and then walked off as if what he had done was completely acceptable and no one was going to challenge him.”

The woman said she told people about the incident at the time but did not go to the police because she “did not think it would be taken seriously”, said the prosecutor.

She became “more angry about what happened” as the years passed, and spurred on by the #MeToo movement she went to the police in 2017.

Leslie, from Edinburgh, was quizzed by officers in 2018 and declined to answer questions, but said at the end of his interview “I’ve never attacked or assaulted anyone”, the court heard.

The former TV star, whose full name is John Leslie Stott, denies one charge of sexual assault.

Source: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/john-leslie-sexual-assault-trial-groped-woman-celebrity-party-a4568846.html

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