Prosection lawyer explains decision to drop Leslie charges

This is the full statement by Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Richard Horwell:

This is the full statement by Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Richard Horwell:

“The defendant, who is better known as John Leslie but who has been indicted in his full name of John Leslie Stott, was committed to this Court by the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court on 3rd July.

“Since that time, the prosecution has come into possession of further material that has led to the charges against the defendant being reviewed. As a result of that review, a decision has been taken to offer no evidence against Mr Leslie.

“The Court, Mr Leslie and the general public are entitled to an explanation.

“In setting out something of the history of this case, I am sure that Mr Leslie will be the first to appreciate that this is not done for the purpose of suggesting that Mr Leslie is guilty of crimes with which he has not been charged.

“In offering no evidence against him the prosecution gladly acknowledge that he will leave this court without a stain on his character from this investigation.

“Furthermore, in seeking to set out the history of this matter, it may be said that we are doing no more than that which would have been argued on the defendant’s behalf in an attempt to stay these proceedings: namely, that it is widely known that a number of allegations have been made against him.

“Be that as it may, it is the case that, in October 2002, a woman who is well-known alleged that she had been sexually assaulted some years earlier.

“The allegation attracted much publicity. The complainant was not, however, prepared to identify her alleged assailant.

“In due course Mr Leslie’s name was linked to that allegation. It is right to say that the person who made that original allegation chose not to co-operate with the police.

“Accordingly, that allegation remains no more than that: an allegation that the complainant chose not to substantiate.

“Thereafter, a number of other women came forward with allegations against this defendant. Many of these allegations dated back over a number of years.

“Of those who came forward, a number went directly to the press rather than to the police. Some who did make allegations to the police were not willing to give evidence.

“The accounts of those who were prepared to give evidence against Mr Leslie were then subjected to careful scrutiny in the course of an extensive police investigation. In due course, a report was submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service.

“In considering whether or not to bring charges against the defendant, the Crown Prosecution Service had to consider whether, in respect of each allegation made, there was a realistic prospect of the defendant being convicted.

“In so deciding, the Crown Prosecution Service, had, inevitably to take account of the fact that the incidents had taken place several years earlier; the fact that the complainant had not come forward at the time; and a host of other factors that arose in respect of specific allegations.

“In several respects, the Crown Prosecution Service asked the police to make further inquiries into particular aspects of a complainant’s allegation.

“This process of review took some time. During this time, the solicitors then acting for the defendant submitted a large amount of material relating to the media coverage that the allegations had attracted.

“This all had to be considered. It was unfortunate but nevertheless unavoidable that the defendant had to wait some months before learning of the decision that he should be charged with two offences of indecent assault: these relate to the same complainant and are said to have taken place on the same night back in May 1997.

“The fact that the Crown Prosecution Service felt able to advise that charges should be brought in respect of an allegation that dated back several years is a reflection of the thorough, pains-taking and professional investigation that the police had carried out.

“Nevertheless, this is an investigation into the affairs of human beings. Any such inquiry, however thorough, is always vulnerable to the possibility of developments, the precise nature of which can never be predicted.

“It is the case that, since the defendant last appeared at court, new information has been brought to the attention of the police. That information could not have been foreseen. Inevitably, this information relates to the complainant. The source of the information is the complainant herself: that is very much to her credit. To say any more, however, would in our view be apt to mislead and would be unfair to the complainant.

“Our duties to the complainant mean that this material cannot be disclosed. It has, nevertheless, led the Crown Prosecution Service, quite properly, to carry out a further review of the decision to prosecute. It is no longer felt that there is a realistic prospect of conviction in this case. Accordingly, we have made the decision to offer no evidence against Mr Leslie.

“The verdicts that we ask the Court to enter, namely verdicts of not guilty on both counts, mean precisely of course that.

“The media will, of course, understand that the complainant is entitled to life-long anonymity by reason of the provisions of Section 1 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.”

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