Anthea Turner tells court co-star John Leslie is 'incredibly respectful' to women and he 'crumbled' after grope charge

FORMER Blue Peter star Anthea Turner today described co-star John Leslie as "incredibly respectful" to women at his alleged groping trial.

Leslie, 55, is accused of grabbing a woman's breasts at a party event in London's West End in 2008.


Anthea today took the stand at Southwark Crown Court to give evidence on her former co-star's behalf.

When asked about the sexual assault claim, which Leslie denies, she said: "The allegation does not sit at all well with me. This is not the man that I know, not at all."

She told jurors there were "two Johns" – the "life and soul of the party" she first met in the 1980s and the one who "crumpled" after indecent assault allegations were made against him in 2003.

The charges were eventually dropped, but Anthea said: "He was constantly worried about where he was, who he was with, and on edge, which was not the person who we all knew."

Anthea, who appeared alongside Leslie on Blue Peter between 1992 and 1994, said "everybody loved" him on the largely-female team.

She told the court he was "absolutely adored by every woman I knew that worked with him".

'INCREDIBLY RESPECTFUL'

Anthea added to jurors: "I know John incredibly well and I am standing here today because I know John very well, and I would just like to mention, when he asked me to come I wanted to be here.

"This is very important."

Asked about his behaviour around women she said: "I am a woman, he was always respectful, incredibly respectful, with myself."

Anthea was today pictured arriving at court with Diane Louise Jordan, who also appeared on the show with Leslie.

The pair both looked glam in matching check patterns as they both carried camel-coloured leather bags and takeaway coffees.

Diane, who has also presented Songs of Praise, described Leslie in her evidence as a "gentleman".

She said he had qualities of "deep empathy" and "deep kindness" and explained he was like a "big brother".

But told the court he had gone from being an "exuberant" person to "like a shell" after allegations were made against him.

Diane added: "I have never, ever, ever seen John behave in any way inappropriately with any woman."

Ex-co-star Leslie is continuing his evidence today and told jurors he only attended the party for "redemption" after claims were made about his private life.

'RECLUSIVE'

The ex-Blue Peter presenter, 55, said he was a "wounded animal" at the time of the Christmas bash.

He also claimed he had been made "reclusive" by media reports after he was wrongly named live on television in relation to a rape claim.

His former girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson wrote in her autobiography that she had been raped by someone who she did not name.

Leslie had also been accused of indecent assault in 2003 but the charges were dropped against him.

He said today: "I just felt it was a crowd of people who would have understood what I went through and whether they believed what happened or not they would've understood the process, understood where I was and wouldn't judge me.

"I felt that I was comfortable to go.

"On the other hand I was still a wounded animal, I was still scarred by what happened.

"Knowing who was there, it was presenters and colleagues and producers.

"I was still hoping for redemption."

STAR'S DENIAL

He added: "You'd never give up hope. It was still in the back of my mind. It was still about being on best behaviour."

Leslie, who appeared in court under his birth name John Stott, told police when he was interviewed in 2008 he "never ever" attacked anyone but mostly answered "no comment" to their questions.

The star, who presented several popular TV shows including This Morning and Wheel of Fortune, told jurors he "knew I hadn't done anything wrong".

He said: "When I heard the allegation, I said I had never ever assaulted or attacked anybody.

"I wasn't aware of how serious the allegation was or how it was going to proceed.

"All I remember is asking, 'What's going to happen?' The police were not going to recommend proceeding with it. I thought that was that."

Leslie also denied he had ever grabbed anyone's breasts in "jest" or to "test anyone's boundaries" when questioned by prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward.

He added: "There's a line between being a gregarious character and criminal activity. I know the line and I've never crossed it.

"I've never touched somebody's breasts."

TV INDUSTRY 'NOT BACKWARD'

Ms Ledward told jurors it had been suggested by Leslie's defence team that his alleged victim was after "her own MeToo moment".

The prosecutor said this would require her to either lie to people she told at the time, or for them to have "got together and invented this story".

She added: "I'm going to suggest it can only be the third possibly, which is that [the alleged victim] told the truth.

"Back in 2008, perhaps over-excited or with lower inhibitions because you didn't get out much, you did exactly what she had described.

"When she introduced herself to you, you grabbed her breasts.

"You judged that no one would either notice or confront you about it at the time.

"You judged quite rightly instead of spoiling the party and being marched out tout suite, you judged that it would be dealt with discreetly and seemingly with a degree of tolerance."

But Leslie told the court the TV industry is not "backward" and women are "treated fairly".

He said: "You wouldn't let it happen. It's not allowed. It's not something people would condone or allow.

"I would never do such a thing."

Leslie denies sexual assault.

The trial continues.


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