FORMER television star John Leslie will take to the airwaves for the first time in a decade today when he presents a drive- time show on a local radio station.
Leslie, whose glittering career collapsed following allegations of rape and indecent assault, said he was eager to get back on air after a “traumatic” ten years.
The 47-year-old, who once presented Blue Peter, This Morning and Wheel of Fortune to millions of viewers, will be hosting a show on local Edinburgh radio station Castle FM.
Leslie, who earned £250,000 a year at ITV, is presenting the three-hour, once-a-week show for free.
He faced two charges of indecently assaulting a woman in 1997, but the case was dropped by prosecutors at Southwark Crown Court in London in 2003.
The court case followed accusations – flatly denied by Leslie – of sexual misconduct from around 30 women and a claim, also denied, that he was the mystery TV presenter who raped Ulrika Jonsson early in her career.
Leslie, who has admitted drug-taking and treating women without due respect in the past, said in a statement yesterday: “I’ve had a pretty traumatic last ten years – ten years in which I haven’t worked.
“But what pulled me through was being back in Edinburgh and having the support of family and friends.”
He added: “If can do my bit for the community – and say a thank-you of sorts to the life I was able to rebuild back in the capital and to the people who have helped me over the past ten years – by working with Castle FM, I will be very pleased.”
Leslie said he was “delighted to get this opportunity”, adding: “I am determined to make the show a must-listen.
“Friday night between 4-7pm is my favourite time of the week – it’s the time everyone has switched off from work and is looking forward to the weekend. I’m planning to seize on all that excitement and energy.”
Donny Hughes, business development manager at the station, said the show was a significant milestone for Leslie.
“John has had a rough ten years for sure but despite all the lurid allegations, nothing has ever been proven. I think he’s due a break.”
Leslie was sacked by ITV after failing to respond to the claims about his private life and the publication of pictures showing him taking cocaine. He sold his luxurious London home and moved back to Edinburgh, his home town.
After he was cleared of the indecent assault allegations, he told an interviewer: “To be frank, the only thing that has happened in this whole thing is that a lot of women have made a lot of money out of me.
“And not one of their allegations has been proved.”
Accusations sparked fall from glittering heights
John Leslie’s successful career as a TV presenter came to an end in the autumn of 2002 shortly after Ulrika Jonsson, right, published an autobiography that claimed she had been raped by a celebrity.
When a presenter on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff accidentally alleged that Leslie was the anonymous assailant, Jonsson refused to confirm or deny it to police. Several other women then came forward to accuse him of indecent assault.
While Leslie was never charged with any offence against Jonsson, right, an allegation he strenuously denied, he was later arrested and charged with assaulting a woman in May, 1997. The charge was eventually dropped.
A video later appeared on the internet showing Leslie and his then girlfriend Abi Titmuss having sex with another woman.