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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
Leslie's sex charge 'hell'
John Leslie outside court
The former star thanked his girlfriend, family and friends
Television presenter John Leslie emerged from court after two indecent assault charges against him were dropped and said he had "been to hell and back".

The former host of ITV's This Morning programme appeared emotional and relieved at Southwark Crown Court in London on Thursday.

"I have maintained my innocence throughout and today it's been justified," he said.

He had been facing charges of attacking the same woman twice between 25 May and 28 May 1997.

The prosecution said no further action would be taken against him and offered no evidence, adding that it had "come into possession of further material that has led to the charges against the defendant being reviewed".

Mr Leslie was told he could leave the court "without a stain on his character".

Flanked by his girlfriend Abby Titmuss and his parents, the 38-year-old said he and his family had always believed he would be cleared.

We always believed justice would prevail
John Leslie

Visibly shaking, he said: "You've no idea what this has done and what today means."

He went on to thank his legal team and his fans for their supportive letters.

Earlier in court, prosecutor Richard Horwell said: "The prosecution gladly acknowledges that he will leave this court without a stain on his character from this investigation."

Pressed by Mr Leslie's lawyer as to the nature of the "further material" that had led to the charges being dropped, Mr Horwell said it would be "misleading and confusing" to disclose it.

Reading out a statement, he said: "That information could not have been foreseen. Inevitably, it relates to the complainant.

'Unfair'

"The source of the information is the complainant herself - that is very much to her credit.

"To say any more, however, would in our view be apt to mislead and would be unfair to the complainant."

The CPS statement also seemingly referred to allegations in the press arising from television presenter Ulrika Jonsson's autobiography.

I said I would clear my name through the due legal process... and today I have
John Leslie

It said: "In October 2002, a woman who is well-known alleged that she had been sexually assaulted some years earlier.

"The allegation attracted much publicity. The complainant was not, however, prepared to identify her alleged assailant.

"In due course Mr Leslie's name was linked to that allegation. It is right to say that the person who made that original allegation chose not to co-operate with the police.

"Accordingly, that allegation remains no more than that - an allegation that the complainant chose not to substantiate."

Judge George Bathurst-Norman awarded costs to Mr Leslie.

Mr Leslie

Mr Leslie - who has been offered a 1m deal to front his own talk show on Sky - was arrested on 5 December last year by detectives from Scotland Yard's Special Inquiry Team after voluntarily going to police when allegations of sexual assault were made.

He was charged on the advice of the CPS following a lengthy investigation.

A former Blue Peter presenter, Mr Leslie joined This Morning in 1999 and took over as a full-time host with Fern Britton in 2001.

On the news of the charges being dropped, Ms Britton said: "I am absolutely thrilled to bits.

"I have never doubted John and now he can get on with his life and his career."

A statement from Granada indicated he would not be offered his old job back.

"On John's departure, we had no choice but to establish a new presenter line-up for This Morning.

"The presenters worked very well together and have proved very popular with viewers and we don't propose changing that."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Duncan Kenendy
"John Leslie spoke on the court's steps, the relief clear in his voice"




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