Sex trial halted as leaping weatherman Fred Talbot falls over table

Former television weather presenter Fred Talbot arrives to start giving his evidence at Manchester's Minshull Street Court
Former television weather presenter Fred Talbot arrives to start giving his evidence at Manchester's Minshull Street Court
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THE sex abuse trial of television weatherman Fred Talbot was halted today when he fell into a table and injured his head as he left the witness box.

Talbot, 65, who became famous for leaping across a floating map of Britain on ITV’s This morning programme, suffered a crashing fall as he appeared to miss a step to the right of the box at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court.

He suffered a cut to the forehead after he tumbled into a facing table.

The incident took place as the jury was sent out for a break after Talbot had started to give evidence in his defence.

Talbot has been taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary for precautionary checks, the court heard.

There were gasps from the packed public gallery as Talbot collapsed in a heap and the court clerk rushed to his aid.

Talbot groaned on the floor and looked dazed as he was eventually helped to his feet.

A bloodied cut to his forehead was clearly visible before Court 9 was cleared as Talbot was propped up against the table.

Talbot had earlier entered the witness box for the first time to give evidence in his defence against allegations that he indecently five schoolboys between the late 1960s and the early 1980s during his former career as a teacher.

He was in the box for about 20 minutes as he answered questions from his barrister, Suzanne Goddard QC, about his early life and career.

The jury was sent out for a break shortly before 11.50pm and was swiftly followed by Judge Timothy Mort, who had just told Talbot not to talk to anyone while he was giving evidence.

Moments later Talbot suffered his accident.

The jury was later called back in by Judge Mort and told that proceedings had come to an end for the day.

The judge told them: “After you left the room, and I did, Mr Talbot leaving the witness box missed his footing and banged his head against the side of one of these structures.

“He was treated to see if he could be patched up with plaster but the paramedics came and they decided because it was a head injury he really ought to have it checked out so he has gone to MRI (Manchester Royal Infirmary) by ambulance, I’m afraid.”

He then adjourned the case until 10am tomorrow and told the jury that “fingers crossed” the trial would then resume.

Earlier, the start of the court day had been delayed for an hour after a fire drill.

Earlier, Talbot told the jury he had gone into teaching to “change the world”.

On entering the witness box he gave his full name of Frederick Wilson Talbot and confirmed his age and date of birth.

Miss Goddard then led him through the details of his background and CV.

Born in Edinburgh, he moved at the age of seven to Sale, where he spent the rest of his childhood.

Talbot passed his A-levels at Sale Grammar School before going on to teacher training college in Newcastle at the age of 18.

He was on the course for three years and later took up his teaching post at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys from 1974 to 1984.

From there he embarked on his television career and worked for ITV and Granada TV, the court was told.

Asked if he had worked in television once the present allegations against him had been made, the freelance presenter said: “No. Not earned a penny.”

Talbot went on to say that he was gay as he was questioned about his attitudes to the laws surrounding homosexuality when he was a young man.

The age of consent for homosexuals was 21 before it was lowered to 18 in 1994 and then reduced again to 16 in 2001.

Talbot told the jury: “I thought it was terrible. It was 16 for everyone else and I wanted it be 16.

“It caused a lot of problems for many people.”

Miss Goddard asked him at what age did he start to think he may be homosexual.

The defendant said: “About 14. I knew there was something very unusual for me at 14.

“When I was in the sixth form a few people guessed and made my life a sheer misery.”

Miss Goddard asked: “Was it something you were prepared to be open about?”

“Oh no,” said Talbot.

He went on: “When I was about 16 I did have a girlfriend for a time. I was not totally sure but I think I knew ... but there was nobody to turn to.”

He said he had “one-night stands” with girls during his teenage years, which involved intercourse.

But he added that he had “sexual contact” with boys and older men.

Miss Goddard said: “What did that amount to?”

Talbot replied: “Masturbation, I suppose.”

The jury has previously heard that Talbot kept diaries from the age of 12 which had been recovered by the police but diaries had not been found for the years 1972, 1973 to 1975, 1978, 1979, 2000 and 2004.

The defendant said he had not kept diaries for those years and denied he had either hidden or destroyed them.

Miss Goddard asked him what his aspirations were when he went into teacher training.

Talbot said: “I wanted to change the world. The belief I have always had is that education can improve people.

“I still have that view. I had it then.”

Four of the complainants were teenage pupils at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, where Talbot taught biology, while the other was a pupil at Eldon High School in Gateshead when Talbot was on placement from the training college.

Talbot denies anything sexual or inappropriate occurring between himself and the Altrincham pupils.

He admits consensual sexual activity took place with the latter pupil but that it only happened when the complainant turned 16 as opposed to when he was aged 14 or 15.

Today, Talbot said he was 19 when he first met the Gateshead pupil.

He explained he wrote a dissertation about him as part of his studies because he thought he was “most interesting”.

He said: “I had to get approval to follow this kid for a whole year. I hate to say improve ... that was all part of my desire to change the world.”

He agreed he had invited him to visit his college accommodation, as he did with other boys.

He said that Newcastle was a “very poor city” at the time and he wanted to show students the college.

Speaking about the complainant, he said: “He was a very interesting character and I actually enjoyed his company. Highly introverted, a quite unprivileged background, quite intelligent.”

The youngster went on to stay overnight at his accommodation, Talbot said, and the pair would enjoy trips out together such as visiting art galleries.

Talbot said: “It was this idea of improving his mind, giving him new opportunities.”

Talbot, of Bowdon, Greater Mancehster, who was a regular on the floating weather map in Liverpool’s Albert Dock for ITV’s top-rating This Morning show, has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of indecent assault.