‘I was labelled a monster and thought about killing myself’: John Leslie opens up about how false rape claims ruined his life

  • Ex-TV star, now 47, says ordeal left him broke and a hermit
  • Allegations were like illness that ‘couldn’t be cured’
  • Former This Morning presenter bitter that he was never awarded damages
  • Father-of-one rebuilding career as a radio DJ

6 January 2013

Former television presenter John Leslie has laid bare his torment at the devastating sex attack claims that destroyed his career and nearly brought him to suicide.

The former host of This Morning says being named supposedly accidentally as the alleged rapist of fellow TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson ruined his life, leaving him broke and turning him into a hermit.

He has not worked in television since the unfounded 2003 allegations and says he still feels damned for crimes he didn’t commit.

The ex-Blue Peter star, 47, told the Sunday People: ‘Every day you leave the house you are reminded of it. I was never able to move on, it was like an illness that couldn’t be cured. I was labelled a monster. I once contemplated suicide because I couldn’t see a way out.’

His career was effectively over from the moment he was named, apparently accidentally, on daytime television as the man who launched a sex attack on Ms Jonsson, who has never revealed the identity of the mystery criminal she wrote about in her book.

He was dropped from This Morning and then more allegations came to light in 2003, concerning two alleged indecent assaults on a 23-year-old actress in 1997.

He was subsequently cleared ‘without a stain on his character’.

Mr Leslie, who has a six-year-old daughter by former girlfriend Rachel Bentley, was then dogged by by a sex tape that emerged of him with another former girlfriend, actress Abi Titmuss, 36, and another woman, before another unfounded rape accusation was leveled at him in 2008.

After years of rejection in his bid to relaunch a TV career, he tried his hand at becoming a property developer but his attempt coincided with the housing crash, leaving him with no money.

There was another knock-back in 2010 when ITV bosses approached Mr Leslie to appear on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here before backing out over his troubled past.

He says, in retrospect, he is glad didn’t take part as it reinforced there would not be a second chance for him and stopped him becoming a television ‘circus act’.

Despite being out of the public eye, he says people still recognise him – but for the wrong reasons.

‘Before it was like, “he’s the guy on the telly” and after it felt like they were saying, “he’s the guy that’s been accused of hurting women”.’

With little cash, Mr Leslie relied on royalties from his time as host of game show Wheel of Fortune to make end meet.

He admitted he made mistakes and didn’t know how to handle his private life, saying he was ‘loud and boisterous’ and ‘tactile with boys and girls but you can’t do that’, while he says was unable to separate his onscreen personality from his every day life.

Currently single, Mr Leslie said a previous three-year relationship with a psychologist helped him deal with his problems.

Mr Leslie, who also dated Hollywood star Catherine Zeta-Jones, 43, says he remains close to Miss Titmuss, who stood by him during the court trial into the assault allegations.

He is now a radio DJ on Edinburgh station Castle FM, with a show every Friday.
Things are looking up: Mr Leslie says he is rebuilding his life as a radio presenter after a hellish 10 years of dealing with false sex claims

Things are looking up: Mr Leslie says he is rebuilding his life as a radio presenter after a hellish 10 years of dealing with false sex claims

Despite being back on track, Mr Leslie says he still has worries, including how to break the news of his troubled past to his daughter.

And he remains bitter about how he was treated, comparing his ordeal to Lord McAlpine, the Tory peer wrongly accused of child sex abuse by Newsnight, who received £185,000 in libel damages from the BBC. Mr Leslie says he received nothing.

He also believes rape laws should be changed so the accused isn’t named until they are convicted.

Mr Leslie believes his new career has been a ‘breath of fresh air’ and believes being out of the public spotlight is the right thing to do by his parents Lex and Les, both 72.

‘They suffered a lot more than me and still suffer from the legacy,’ he said. ‘For years mum would be in floods of tears when people said negative things about me, it was tough seeing them upset.’

‘Sometimes I feel this is the path that was set put for me so maybe this is meant to be.

‘I just hope my life is about to change for the better.’

Source: dailymail.co.uk