Is TV career over for Justin Lee Collins?
JUSTIN Lee Collins will have an "uphill struggle" to get his career back on track after being found guilty of harassing his former girlfriend, according to a celebrity publicist.
Max Clifford told the Post that the Bristolian comedian and television presenter would have to be careful how he acts over the next couple of weeks if he is to rehabilitate his career following the verdict.
A jury yesterday found Collins guilty of harassing Anna Larke after a ten-day trial at St Albans Crown Court. The former Speedwell School pupil, who lived with Ms Larke in London after separating from his wife in Clifton, was sentenced to 140 hours of unpaid work.
A spokeswoman for Collins, who had denied the allegations, told the Post: "Justin is extremely disappointed by the verdict. He will consider his position with his lawyers."
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Mr Clifford said: "What he's got to do is apologise, he's also got to try and justify, in other words 'because of this, that's why, I realise it's wrong'. It has got to be a real, heartfelt apology that convinces people he is genuinely sorry. If he comes up with a reason, personal tragedy or something else, if he does that, that softens the kind of damage but I do think it is going to be very difficult for him.
"There is going to be an awful lot of bad coverage in the press and I just think that the kind of things heard in court and the kind of claims that he has been found guilty of are very damaging and probably upset an awful lot of people who won't want to see him or listen to him: radio or TV producers, people who book gigs and concert venues, etc. He's got a real uphill struggle ahead."
Mr Clifford said that Collins' future career will probably depend on how he responds to what has happened over the next week or so.
Celebrity agent John Miles, of Clapton-in-Gordano, has been managing entertainers and performers for more than 50 years. While he does not manage Collins he said his advice to the star would be to apologise.
"I have always found Justin to be an extremely nice guy and obviously it's a great shame that he is in the position he is in," Mr Miles said.
"His public image is very good and people like him but the trouble is in the whole entertainment business things can change very quickly. If he's lucky, with time and good management, maybe the public will accept what has happened and he can move on. The main thing is, the people who decide on whether you have got a continuing career are the public. It will be them who decide, not the TV people, not the broadcasters and not the managers and pundits.
"The court has decided what they have decided. It's no good trying to continue to say 'I didn't do it'.
"If you do slip up, and we all make mistakes, the best way is to be honest and apologise.
"If you are big enough to say 'I made a mistake and I'm sorry', you hope that the public will accept that."
The court heard that Collins, 38, who rose to national fame as a host on Channel 4's The Friday Night Project, was controlling, jealous and physically violent towards Ms Larke, also 38. Jurors heard she was subjected to sustained emotional and domestic abuse during their seven-month relationship, and was made to tell him all her previous sexual encounters, which he wrote down in a notebook.
Collins must now carry out unpaid community work, which usually includes tasks such as decorating and renovating buildings, environmental conservation, recycling or working in a charity shop.
Sentencing Collins, Judge John Plumstead said: "This is humbling work for somebody who lives a prominent public life but the very humility that the manual work should induce will make you pause and think about what you have done. It would have been very much to your credit if you had had the courage to admit your violence against Ms Larke and for that you will pay the price."
Within minutes of the verdict, Bristol MP Kerry McCarthy had posted a message on website Twitter condemned Collins, claiming that she was not surprised about the verdict – based purely on a phone conversation she had once overheard him having on a train.