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John Leslie: 'I contemplated suicide over assault allegations'

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John Leslie has spoken about the false assault allegations he has faced over the past ten years.

The former This Morning host gave his first televised interview in a decade on ITV's Daybreak this morning, where he criticised the press for ruining his career.

John Leslie appears on 'Daybreak'

© Rex Features / Ken McKay



Leslie first faced rape allegations in 2002 when Ulrika Jonsson wrote in her autobiography that a television presenter raped her when she worked as a junior.

Channel 5 presenter Matthew Wright then accidentally mentioned Leslie's name live on air when discussing the issue.

Several other women then came forward alleging that he had sexually assaulted them, but all charges were eventually dropped in 2003. Police also threw out rape allegations against Leslie in 2008.

"I thought it was about time to get my point across, [as] ten years ago no-one would listen," he told Daybreak. "The press are a different animal and the public are a lot less sceptical.

"My career was torn apart. On the day, I was doing This Morning as usual, and at the end of it - there was a deadly silence. My editor came through and took me off the studio floor, and she had a look on her face as if somebody had died. I didn't know at the time, but it was my career."

Evening Standard headlines showing story about Ulrika Jonsson rape allegations against John Leslie

© Rex Features / Ray Tang



Leslie explained that the press attention got so bad that he considered committing suicide.

"It was armageddon, the press started to take my life apart. I was hounded, my phones were hacked. It was worse for my family, they were subjected to insane press intrusion.

"There was no way to stop it. It got to a point where the only way to stop it was contemplating suicide."

He continued: "I was no angel, and I have apologised. But I can honestly say that I have never hit anybody or attacked anybody in my life.

"But what the press were doing, they were goading people and advertising for girls to come forward and tell about me. They put the telephone number in the papers.

"Then the police got involved, this was over a year. Police have to do their job. Me and my friends were arrested. The judge said 'you leave the court without a stain on your character'."

On his career following the allegations, he added: "Then the phone didn't ring, I became a reclusive. I didn't go out, but the public support has been fantastic, that's why I feel I can talk about it.

"I'm broadcasting on Fridays at Castle FM, so it's just a little start. It's taken 10 years but I'm very thankful to the people who have given me a chance again."

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