Belfast Telegraph

Collins' ex-lover denies blackmail

Justin Lee Collins' former girlfriend denied attempting to blackmail the comedian after they broke up.

Anna Larke, 38, alleges Collins harassed and assaulted her during their nine-month relationship.

Sonia Woodley QC, defending Collins at St Albans Crown Court, alleged Miss Larke told the former host of The Friday Night Project she would report him to police unless he gave her £20,000 after he refused to get back with her. She said: "You told him, 'Give me £20,000 or I'm going to hurt you and I'm going to go to the police'."

Miss Larke replied: "Oh my god that's absolute lies. I've never said that."

Ms Woodley said Collins texted her back saying "I've offered you all sorts of help but I'm not getting involved in blackmail", the jury heard.

Miss Larke told the court: "If I had just wanted money I would have gone straight to the press."

Giving evidence, Miss Larke's mother Penelope told the court her daughter would call her and tell her that Collins had smacked and sworn at her. She said her daughter told her Collins had pressurised her to tell him about her sexual past.

Miss Larke also told her mother that Collins had smacked her on the face but asked her to keep it secret."She said 'Mum I have to tell you something, you have to promise me first that you won't say anything to anybody, and then she said he smacked her and swears at her. She told me he smacked her in the private parts."

Her husband, Jeremy Larke, told the court it was like "walking on eggshells" when their daughter visited the family home while she was with Collins. Mr Larke said he asked his daughter about "reddish marks" on her face and arms but said she dismissed them.

Collins, of Kew, south west London, denies one charge of harassment by causing her fear of violence.

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