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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Leslie's supporters express delight
John Leslie and Fern Britton
Leslie's former co-presenter Fern Britton said she never doubted him
Supporters of television presenter John Leslie have reacted with delight and relief to the news that indecent assault charges against him have been dropped.

Fern Britton, his friend and former co-host on ITV1's This Morning programme, said she was "absolutely thrilled to bits".

"I've never doubted John and now he can get on with his life and his career," she said.

But some commentators have warned it might prove difficult for Mr Leslie to re-establish his media career.

Friend and TV presenter Chris Rogers told ITV News: "People who made allegations against John over the past few months should seriously be questioning their position now.

"I imagine that anybody in their right mind would want to take legal action against people that have made serious allegations that have ruined his career."

He added: "John is a very ambitious, very talented, well-liked person in the industry.

"Everybody who has worked with John loves him, loves working with him and I think it will be just a matter of time before we see John back on our screens."

His life has just been completely and utterly shattered
Christine Hamilton
Anthea Turner, Mr Leslie's former Blue Peter colleague, said the prosecution's decision to drop the charges was "fantastic news for John and his family".

"Let's hope he can get on with rebuilding his life," she said.

Christine Hamilton, the wife of former Tory MP Neil Hamilton, was emotional as she gave her reaction to the BBC - but also spoke with anger about Mr Leslie's public ordeal.

The Hamiltons faced a similar situation when they were arrested in August 2001, falsely accused of raping Nadine Milroy-Sloan.

'Outrageous'

They were cleared after an 18-day investigation, and Milroy-Sloan was jailed for three years in June for perverting the course of justice.

Mrs Hamilton told BBC News 24: "It brings back a tiny bit of what we went through...

Max Clifford
He's got to win the hearts and minds of the British public and that is going to be an uphill struggle
Max Clifford, publicist

"His life has just been completely and utterly shattered and quite frankly somebody ought to pay the price for that.

"People should not be allowed to go around like this and wrecking people's lives."

Her husband Neil said there should be "a proper and public inquiry into the way this case has been conducted".

"What has happened to John Leslie is absolutely outrageous," he said.

"It is an indelible stain that he carries and it is no fault of his own that he carries it... he's got a difficult time in the next few months to recover from this terrible, shattering shock."

Advice

He hoped Mr Leslie would be "covered with sympathy in the court of the public", and eventually recover his TV career.

But public relations guru Max Clifford said the former Blue Peter presenter faced a tough task ahead.

"He's won the legal battle, now he has got to win the public relations battle," he said.

"He's got to win the hearts and minds of the British public and that is going to be an uphill struggle."

Mr Clifford said Mr Leslie needed to win the support of all the media.

"He needs to try to get the very media that tried to damage him and possibly destroy him to try to rebuild his career - and that means all of them," he said.

He said he would advise against Mr Leslie doing any individual deals with media organisations for his story.





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