BBC presenter John Leslie has been charged with sexual assault over a decade after an alleged incident which involved the “sexual touching of a woman aged 16 or over”.
Leslie, who previously hosted flagship children’s show Blue Peter and This Morning, has been charged with one count of sexual assault contrary to Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and will appear at Westminster magistrates’ court 25th July.
He has denied the allegation, saying he is "totally innocent of the historic allegation and will be contesting the trial".
A woman aged in her 30s at the time came forward to police at a later date to make a complaint.
Accusations of improper sexual behaviour have dogged Leslie for years. In October 2002, TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson stated in her autobiography "an acquaintance" had raped her when she was 19. Fellow BBC presenter presenter Matthew Wright claimed on daytime TV showThe Wright Stuff Leslie was the perpetrator two months later, although Jonsson has neither confirmed nor denied the charge in the years since.
— Dee (@dalkey04) July 12, 2019
Nonetheless, several women have made accusations of indecent assault against Leslie - he was arrested in December 2002 on one count of rape and two concerning indecent assault, and released on bail after being interviewed by the police. He was charged in June 2003 with assaulting a woman twice between 25th and 28th May 1997, but the prosecution dropped the charges against Leslie at Southwark Crown Court 31st July 2003 after new information was offered from the alleged victim.
Over the course of the past decade, the BBC has been repeatedly dogged by accusations of institutionalised sexual abuse. In 2012 and 2013, the state broadcaster was involved in a series of investigations, accusations and scandals related to sexual abuse committed by employees, and the reporting of allegations of abuse by others, following revelations that TV personality Jimmy Savile had engaged in industrial-scale sexual abuse of children, on occasion at BBC TV Centre, and there were suggestions the activities were known about, and ignored, by higher-ups.
The ensuing coverage encouraged other victims to come forward with allegations of abuse against other BBC stars, and led to the establishment of Operation Yewtree by Metropolitan Police to examine historic sexual abuse allegations against Savile and others, and resulted in several prosecutions. For instance, TV and radio presenter Stuart Hall was convicted in 2013 and 2014 of sexual offences, and veteran children’s TV entertainer Rolf Harris was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault in 2014.
However, the BBC rejected calls from child protective groups for an inquiry, claiming "the convictions do not relate to the BBC".