The jury in Blue Peter star John Leslie’s sex assault trial was sent home today as a ‘precautionary measure’ amid tight Covid-19 restrictions.
They were about to hear the TV presenter’s lawyer Gudrun Young make her closing speech when Judge Deborah Taylor adjourned the case.
The judge said in a statement: “As a precautionary measure the trial is unable to sit today and it is hoped the trial will be able to continue on Monday.”
Leslie, 55, who also presented This Morning, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a Christmas party at a bar in London’s West End in 2008.
He denies one charge of sexual assault by intentionally touching a woman without her consent.
The alleged victim claimed he sexually assaulted her moments after she had shaken his hand, introduced herself and said: “Nice to meet you.”
She claimed he walked off laughing without saying a word.
The woman did not report the incident for nine years.
Leslie said he cannot remember meeting the woman who was a `stranger’ to him and could not recall if he had been to the party.
He said he had never sexually assaulted anyone.
Fellow TV stars Anthea Turner, Yvette Fielding, Diane-Louise Jordan and Fern Britton gave character evidence on his behalf on Thursday.
They all said they had never seen Leslie, whom they had worked with, behave inappropriately to any woman.
Jocelyn Ledward, prosecuting, warned the jury not to be swayed by celebrity.
She said: “You will undoubtedly recognise the names and the faces who have come to speak on his behalf.
“Of course you will not want to be influenced by their status as celebrities, as familiar figures, as people who appear in your televisions that might make you feel like you’ve got a personal connection with them.
“This is about John Leslie himself.
“You’ve heard about his TV career, you have heard of his extensive experience as somebody who has been in the public eye on live unscripted TV.
“Some witnesses can attest to the stressful situation that that is.
“They are all undoubtedly, Mr Leslie included, experienced and confident communicators who can project to an audience and know exactly how to judge that audience.
“What I invite you to do is go beyond that and forensically examine the evidence and not to take the package, the skilled communicator, the confident presenter John Leslie at face value.
“I suggest to you in fact the only proper conclusion is that the evidence you heard from the victim must be true.
“An over-excited, disinhibted, doesn’t-get-out-much John Leslie did exactly what she said.
“He grabbed the woman’s breasts quite deliberately because he could and because he judged quite correctly that nobody was going to do anything about it at the time.
“Far from being marched out tout suite he knew his audience and he knew he could get away with it.”
Leslie denies sexual assault.
Strict social distancing measures have been deployed at Southwark Crown Court for the trial.
Jurors have been granted twice the space they would normally have, seats have been spaced out in the public gallery and press bench and attendees have been allowed to wear face masks inside the courtroom.
A one-way entrance and exit system has been set up within the building.
The trial continues.