John Leslie has spoken out after being cleared of sexual assault and thanked everyone who has supported him through his ordeal.
The former Blue Peter presenter, 55, was cleared by a jury at Southwark Crown Court on Monday after a week-long trial.
Leslie had been accused of grabbing a woman’s breasts without consent at a Christmas party held in London in December 2008.
He had repeatedly denied the claims and a verdict was delivered after 23 minutes of deliberation, with Leslie reportedly crying and nodding towards the jury as he was acquitted.
Taking to Instagram to address the case, Leslie thanked those who have stood by him.
He shared a photo of him looking out towards a sunset and wrote: ‘Thank you to everybody who has supported me through this ordeal. I will be spending some time putting my family back together again ❤️.’
Judge Deborah Taylor told the star at the end of his trial: ‘Mr Stott, you for the second time leave this court without a stain on your character and I hope it will be the last time you have to attend.’
Leslie, who previously hosted hit ITV show This Morning, told the jury he had become reclusive, paranoid, depressed and suicidal amid the allegations, adding: ‘I lost everything.’
The presenter said his life had changed completely when he was wrongly identified on live TV as the unnamed alleged rapist in his former girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson’s autobiography in 2002.
Leslie told the jury he had previously been portrayed as an ‘aggressive, sexual monster’ by the tabloid press, and denied ever assaulting any woman – insisting it is ‘not in my nature’.
The jury heard that Jonsson never made any complaint to police and presenter Matthew Wright apologised and stated he had named Leslie in error.
In 2003, two charges of indecent assault against Leslie, made by one woman, were dropped, and not guilty verdicts given.
The court also heard Leslie was arrested and interviewed by police in 2008 regarding an allegation of rape and indecent assault said to have happened in 1995, but there was insufficient evidence to charge and no further action was taken.
In response to accusations he had ‘made a solid grab of a woman’s breast without her consent’, before laughing and walking away at a Christmas Bash in 2008, Leslie slammed the claims as ‘crazy’ and ‘ludicrous’ in court.
He voluntarily attended a police interview in March 2018, following an official complaint being made against him in 2017, and he was charged with one count of sexual assault in June 2019 and granted bail.
During court proceedings that took place last Wednesday, Leslie told the court: ‘The idea that I would do that is just crazy, especially the way that I was with everything that had been going on.’
He continued: ‘I was paranoid, I was aware and conscious of wherever I was. To go up to a total stranger I had never met and do that is just ludicrous. I would have said hello, I would have talked to her.
‘I would not have touched her like some mannequin and walked off. I have never assaulted anybody, I would never do that, it’s not in my nature.’
In court, Leslie’s former co-stars Anthea Turner and Blue Peter presenter Diane-Louise Jordan defended him, giving evidence on his character.
While Turner said Leslie had always been ‘incredibly respectful’, Jordan described him as a ‘gentleman’.