Ex-Blue Peter star ‘laughed as he groped woman at Christmas party’, court hears

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The trial against former Blue Peter presenter John Leslie for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at a party in London more than a decade ago has begun.

Leslie, 55, of Edinburgh, denies sexual assault by intentionally touching a woman without her consent on December 5 2008.

Leslie, whose full name is John Leslie Stott, was wearing a smart mid-grey suit as he stood quietly in the dock at London's Southwark Crown Court while the jury was sworn in.

His father Les Stott sat listening in the court where everyone involved in the hearing was socially-distanced.

Leslie presented Blue Peter between 1989 and 1994, and has also hosted Wheel Of Fortune and This Morning.

John Leslie is accused of grabbing a woman's breasts and laughing before walking away, the court heard.

The alleged incident happened at a Christmas party in London's West End.

Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward told the jury that Leslie is accused of "grabbing" a young woman's breasts shortly after he arrived.

She says he did this "quite deliberately for a period of a few seconds" before walking off.

Ms Ledward said: "The woman was stunned but did not report it to the police.

"He (Leslie) denies he did any such thing and if there was any physical contact between them, then it must have been an accident."

The woman had recognised Leslie at the bar and went over to him, the court heard.

He smiled at her, Ms Ledward said.

The prosecutor added: "She smiled back. Without saying anything further he grabbed both of her breasts with both of his hands and laughed as he did so."

This went on for about three seconds, according to Ms Ledward.

She said: "The prosecution say this was no accidental touching but a quite deliberate sexual assault.

"The defendant laughed again and then walked off as if what he had done was completely acceptable and was not something anyone was going to challenge him on."

The alleged victim did not go to the police at that time, the court heard, as she "did not think her complaint would be taken seriously."

The alleged victim confided in a friend about what she says happened to her. The friend was "shocked" by the claim, the court heard.

Ms Ledward said the climate was different at the time and no-one the woman had told about her ordeal suggested she should report it.

But the prosecutor went on: "In recent years other victims of sexual assault by high profile names have come forward as part of the #MeToo movement.

"She began to feel more angry about what she had experienced and decided to speak to the police.''

Ms Ledward told jurors Leslie's case was that he had not behaved towards the woman the way she had alleged therefore the issue they had to decide was "did it or did it not happen".

John Leslie voluntarily attended a police interview in March 2018 at the end of which he said: "I have not attacked or assaulted anyone ever," the jury was told.

The trial continues

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