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JOHN LESLIE: THE REAL STORY

Aug 3 2003

PENNY TELLS OF WILD NIGHTS

By Dan Evans And Stephen Martin

 

SHAMELESS John Leslie bedded an old flame and told her he was definitely over Abi Titmuss, just days before he was named in the Ulrika Jonsson "rape" scandal and went back to his loyal girlfriend.

Abi's picture was still hanging on the wall of his 1.5m luxury London home as he led sales executive Penny Dix off to his bed.

He promised Penny they could have a future together, only to shun her days later.

Penny Dix

When he was cleared on Thursday of two charges of indecently assaulting an actress, Leslie insisted that without the unerring "love and support" of nurse Abi - his girlfriend of three years - he "would not be here today".

But last night Abi-lookalike Penny, 26, said: "John wasn't that bothered about Abi when he was having sex with me. He said he was over her - and I believed him.

"Abi's going to be devastated to hear about all this, but I really thought John and I could get something going.

"I asked him straight, and he completely dismissed him and Abi as 'in the past'."

Penny told how Leslie wined, dined and wooed her.

"He just scooped me up in his arms and manhandled me up the stairs and threw me down on the bed.

"I wasn't complaining - John likes rough sex and I knew what the script was. He was rampant. We had sex twice that night. Once was brusque and once very sensual." But just nine days later Leslie was sensationally "outed" by TV presenter Matthew Wright as the mystery celebrity who allegedly raped Jonsson when she was a TV weathergirl. Leslie has always denied assaulting Jonsson.

On the night he was named he had arranged to take Penny out, but he stood her up and suddenly stopped returning her calls and text messages.

Penny said: "He went quiet a couple of days before Matthew Wright named him. Before that, there was loads of speculation about who Ulrika's attacker was.

"Then John's name was in the frame, and I didn't know what to think. One minute he was ringing me all the time like a lovesick teenager. The next minute he dropped me like a lead balloon."

Then, in an extraordinary week in which dozens of women came forward to accuse Leslie of molesting them, it emerged he and Abi were back together.

"Looking back, he only had one thing on his mind - getting me into bed. There was a picture of him and Abi on the wall but he still wasn't bothered," said Penny, from Hertfordshire.

Leslie's acquittal last week came after the Crown Prosecution Service failed to offer evidence over the allegations of indecent assault.

It lifted a 10-month cloud over the Scot, which cost him his 250,000-a-year job on This Morning.

Penny said: "I hope he and Abi are very happy together . Good luck to them. But it all seems very strange that now he suddenly reckons that he couldn't have survived without her - because he was doing pretty well on his own when I went round there.

"He told me he had taken her to St Lucia for a make-or-break holiday, and it hadn't worked. He said the rows were simply too much." Penny first met Leslie in November 1997 and dated him for six months. Early on, she was warned about Leslie - then presenter of Wheel Of Fortune - at a showbiz party by an industry insider who told her to "watch out" for him.

But starstruck Penny brushed off the warning, only to be propositioned for group sex by Leslie later that evening.

A month later he begged her to let another woman join their lovemaking and on another occasion tried to get her to a swingers' party. Each time she refused, and when Leslie made it clear the relationship was over, Penny thought she was "just not kinky enough" for him.

Penny moved to Dubai for work but kept in occasional contact with him by email. She returned to Britain last autumn and Leslie was on the phone straight away to set up a date at his place. "I know what John is like and I knew what to expect," said Penny. "He came to pick me up in his black Porsche. We sat in his kitchen chatting and he told me he had changed. He said he'd settled down.

"I didn't see much evidence of it though. He was the same old John - with sex on his brain. And he certainly hadn't changed in bed. He could not get enough."

The next day he got up early and went to work as Fern Britton's co-host on ITV1's This Morning.

Penny slept on between the Egyptian-silk sheets on Leslie's king-sized bed. "I had never seen a bed so big in my life," she said. "It was huge - and he was really proud of it.

"Before we had sex, John made me dinner. It was a Thai chicken stir fry. He opened a bottle of Chardonnay and we sat down together on his couch.

"He put a CD on; the greatest hits of The Police. It was like he was in a routine. The next afternoon, he came home from work and took me for lunch - to Pizza Express.

"We came back and I gave him a foot massage when he was in the bath."

Leslie was getting ready for the National TV awards at the Royal Albert Hall that evening. "He asked me to choose him a tie and then we jumped back into bed." This was nine days before Leslie was named as Ulrika's attacker. She hadn't named her rapist in her book, Honest, but the storm had been brewing for days.

"John and I talked about the Ulrika book because it was in the news," said Penny. "He was scathing about Ulrika and said it was disgusting when people sold stories about their private life to make money.

"We talked about Anthea Turner and Grant Bovey's wedding too. He just said he would never sell out like that."

Leslie has since clinched a 550,000 deal with a newspaper and magazine group for the "exclusive story" of his "ordeal". Penny said: "Looking back it's quite funny. The Ulrika thing was getting going but at the time all John was bothered about were those TV awards.

"He was really peeved that This Morning hadn't won anything. John was convinced that he and Fern Britton should have got a prize." Penny still can't understand why Leslie didn't have the courtesy to get in touch with her when the Ulrika scandal broke.

"We made a date to see the comedian Lee Evans. We were supposed to go on the day his name came out. He didn't phone or text and I thought it was really rude.

"I seriously doubt Abi knows anything about what happened between John and me. I would never have slept with him if I thought there was a chance they were together."

Penny and Leslie first met at Brown's table dancing club in Covent Garden. He was propping up the bar with fellow Blue Peter presenter Tim Vincent when she arrived with a friend.

Leslie turned round and began whispering into Penny's ear. "His Scottish accent was so sexy," she said. "He just leaned across and said, 'You're not leaving before I get your number'. I was impressed that he was so forward. A week later he called me, the day before my 21st birthday."

Leslie took her for dinner at a Soho bistro. A few days later, they met again and she ended up staying at his house. She spent Christmas with him.

"On Christmas morning he brought me breakfast in bed. I was in a lot of trouble with my family for missing Christmas lunch. But I didn't care. I was so thrilled to be with him."

Soon Penny was regularly on Leslie's arm at showbiz and charity parties.

At the party where she was warned off Leslie she said he went off with his mates to the other side of the room.

"He knew I was cross with him for deserting me. He said he would make it up to me, then he said he wanted 'the boys' to come upstairs and join us among the coats.

"I was staggered. I felt betrayed. I just grabbed my stuff and stormed out.

"He followed me later. He was trying to make light of it, passing it off as a slip of the tongue. He was always very persuasive, and in the end I let myself brush it off simply as too much drink.

"He didn't dare raise it again but a couple of months later while we were having sex he asked if he could call another girl he knew - a nurse - to see if she fancied coming around.

"Another time he wanted me to go to a swingers' party. We were in a bar with two or three of his friends and John was trying to talk me into going back to someone's house for a 'party'.

"I can't remember how he phrased it but it was heavy with innuendo and I felt really uncomfortable.

"Other times he would go into a sulk when he didn't get his own way in the bedroom. When all these stories about him with threesomes started coming out I can't say I was surprised.

"I was annoyed with John for just dumping me after we had that night together. But there's no point harbouring grudges about it.

"He's very lucky to have Abi. But I don't think I'll be getting an invite to the wedding somehow."

Last night Leslie's parents Les and Lex voiced their anger at Ulrika for not denying their son was her alleged attacker.

Les, 63, said: "You don't write books and accuse somebody and not say who it is without facing the consequences." All she needed to say was 'It was not him'. She didn't. Why did she let this happen?"

A relaxed-looking Leslie, with Abi and another man, was driven from his house at 10.30am yesterday in a Chrysler Voyager jeep.

The three spent the day at nearby Pennyhill Park Hotel, a five-star 200-a-night country manor house.

While Leslie was out, a magnum of champagne arrived for him - from former girlfriend Catherine Zeta Jones and her Hollywood actor husband Michael Douglas.

 
 

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