Ex Eggheads star CJ de Mooi, 49, reveals he contracted HIV as a homeless teen prostitute… as he claims legal woes are ‘weakening his immune system’ amid AIDS battle

  • CJ de Mooi fears he ‘may not have many years left’ after previously revealing he is ‘dying of AIDS’ 
  • Former Eggheads star faced legal fees while fighting extradition to Netherlands 
  • Followed unfounded claims he murdered a homeless man in Amsterdam in 1988
  • He declared bankruptcy in 2018 ‘due to opposing solicitors trying to recoup costs relating to the false allegation of sexual assault made against him in 2016’ 

Former Eggheads star CJ de Mooi, real name Joseph Connagh, has given an update on his health and legal woes, after revealing he is ‘dying from AIDS’.

The 49-year-old spoke to Eamonn Holmes on talkRadio on Tuesday and bravely revealed he contracted HIV aged just 18 after being forced into prostitution while living on the streets ‘in a bid to stay alive’. 

He also claimed ongoing legal and financial woes have ‘weakened his immune system,’ due to the stress as he is worried about losing his home.

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30-year battle: Ex Eggheads star CJ de Mooi, 49, bravely told Eamonn Holmes on talkRADIO on Tuesday that he contracted HIV while being forced to work as a teen prostitute in a bid to ‘stay alive’ while homeless – he recently revealed he is ‘dying from AIDS’

An honest account: CJ told Eamonn (pictured) his ongoing legal and financial woes are ‘weakening his immune system’ amid his AIDS battle, due to the incredible amount of stress

He said: ‘This has been a situation that I’ve been living with now for 30 years. With the current medication, the situation is manageable. 

‘I went to the hospital and I was stable. I’ve been given a course of new medication. Over the last three years, I’ve had a lot of issues, shall we say?’  

‘The constant stress of everything that’s been going on, has, according to my doctor, weakened my immune system so much that it’s now very vulnerable.

‘I’m getting more and more ill every day.’ 

Tough time: CJ (pictured on Eggheads in 2016), faced spiralling legal fees while fighting extradition to the Netherlands over claims he murdered a homeless man in Amsterdam in 1988 – charges which were later dropped by the British courts

CJ faced spiralling legal fees while fighting extradition to the Netherlands over claims he murdered a homeless man in Amsterdam in 1988 – charges which were later dropped by the British courts.  

He declared bankruptcy in September, 2018, his spokesperson said this was due to opposing solicitors trying to recoup costs relating to the false allegation of sexual assault made against him in 2016. 

CJ lives with his husband of three years, and partner of 18 years, Andrew Doran in Caldicot, Monmouthshire but continues to worry about losing their home.

He told Eamonn: ‘I don’t want to be dramatic, or cynical, but the case could drag on for another eight months and I could lose the house anyway.

‘The only way it goes away and I get better, is if the claim against me is removed and I can just get on with my life.

‘I don’t want people to feel sorry for me, especially about my health. I don’t know how long I’ve got left. 

‘I contracted HIV when I was 18 because I was sleeping on the streets. I had to resort to prostitution just in order to stay alive. I’m not ashamed of that, I did it because I wanted to live. Here I am 30 years later, still quite fit, quite healthy.’ 

On Easter Sunday, the former quiz show star took to Twitter to reveal he is ‘dying of AIDS’. 

He wrote: ‘I’ve been living with AIDS for 30 years but the agony of the last 3 years means I may not have many left.

‘I’m outwardly healthy, still running and am staying positive I can get better.

‘Thank you all for your love and if I can do anything to help any of you, please just ask. CJ.’ 

Pinned to the top of CJ’s Twitter is a link to a GoFundMe page, which aims to raise £15k. At the time of writing, the total was at £3,537.  

Speaking out: The TV star previously thanked fans for their support, adding: ‘I hope I can return the love and positivity you’ve shown me’

Sad: Taking to the micro-blogging site on Easter Sunday, the 49-year-old, whose real name is Joseph Connagh, wrote – ‘I’ve been living with AIDS for 30 years but the agony of the last 3 years means I may not have many left’

A tweet that appeared on the account five hours later was written by ‘Joe’ and appeared to be updating CJ’s followers on the situation.

Joe posted: ‘Thank you so much to everyone who donated, commented, retweeted or sent support.’   

The TV star thanked fans for their support, adding: ‘I hope I can return the love and positivity you’ve shown me.’ 

On Monday, he tweeted ‘Thank you all for the support but if you were donating to my page today, please give to the victims of the Sri Lanka attacks instead. They need it more. Love CJ.’

De Mooi, who was a panellist on the cult hit BBC Two quiz show for more than a decade, sparked a flurry of headlines when his autobiography was published in 2015. 

He described being confronted by a knifeman whom he attacked and threw into one of Amsterdam’s famous canals when he was a penniless teenager in 1988.

On the up: De Mooi became a panellist on the BBC Two show Eggheads in 2003 after winning a series of game shows

Describing the man as a knife-wielding mugger, he wrote in his autobiography: ‘He caught me on the wrong day and I just snapped. 

‘I punched him so hard in the face, knocked the knife out of his hand and threw him in the canal. I fully suspect I killed him. I’ve no idea what happened to him.’

In May 2016, Dutch authorities said Mr Connagh was wanted for alleged ‘murder, manslaughter and assault’ and he was arrested at London Heathrow Airport.

But the warrant was torn up at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in October 2016. 

His lawyer Chris Stevens said at the time: ‘There doesn’t appear to be a named victim in the warrant, date of birth or even an address where this matter took place.’ 

Dutch authorities later dropped the extradition attempt – but de Mooi was left in serious financial trouble and filed bankruptcy paperwork last September.

He has also alleged that he was sacked from Eggheads in 2016 on the same day claims he sexually assaulted a man on a night out in Glasgow were dropped.

Now de Mooi, has claimed his house is being possessed and he is worried about being made homeless.  

Tumultuous: De Mooi, who was a panellist on the cult hit BBC Two quiz show for more than a decade, sparked a flurry of headlines when his autobiography was published in 2015

Happier times: CJ was in Thailand last year, having been flown over by his husband’s company so he could visit him

What is AIDS, can it be treated and what is the prognosis when diagnosed?

There is currently no cure for HIV, but there are effective drug treatments that enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life.

With an early diagnosis and effective treatments, most people with HIV won’t develop any AIDS-related illnesses and will live a near-normal lifespan.

Those living with HIV can be at risk of developing infections they wouldn’t normally be at risk of if their immune system has been damaged by the HIV virus.

These opportunistic infections, as they’re called, happen when you have a very weak immune system.

But with HIV treatment, the likelihood of developing these is low.

The four main types of opportunistic infections are: 

  • bacterial infections, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis (TB)
  • fungal infections, such as oral thrush and pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)
  • parasitic infections, such as toxoplasmosis
  • viral infections, such as shingles (herpes zoster)

Although a healthy person would be able to fend off these often treatable infections, AIDS patients don’t have strong enough immune systems and the illnesses can continue to spread, worsen and potentially trigger other conditions until the patient eventually dies. 

People with advanced HIV also have a higher risk of developing some forms of cancer, such as cancer of the lymphatic system (lymphoma). 

He added on Twitter: ‘You are amazing as is the £3348.72 raised for CJ so far. If he somehow manages to save his house, it will all be repaid or go to charity. Joe ❤️.’ 

Earlier tweets, also posted by Joe, read: ‘CJ is, unsurprisingly, feeling down but always has the sanctuary of running which I believe has literally been a life saver for him. 

‘Thank you as ever for your support and we both wish you a very happy Sunday. Joe.’

Another read: ‘I beg you to watch CJ’s short video, listen to his interview, comment and please RT. He is dying and we are desperate to get the truth out.’

This referenced an interview the TV personality took part in with Iain Lee – who appeared on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2017 and is an advocate for mental health – on talkRADIO, in which he opened up about his problems. 

Last month, de Mooi kept his Twitter followers updated on his struggles, posting: ‘The bankruptcy trustee ignores my questions. 

‘A man lied and destroyed my life but is protected, so as not to dissuade genuine accusers.

‘My house is being possessed to compensate his solicitors. I’ve broken no law but am being made homeless. Nobody will help me. Is this justice?’

Following messages of support, he then added that he had spoken to a specialist insolvency solicitor who was optimistic that he could save the house.

De Mooi said: ‘It will still cost a lot of money but at least I have a glimmer of hope.’ 

De Mooi became a panellist on Eggheads, which features five quiz champions competing as a team against different challengers, in 2003. 

Originally from Rotherham, he has revealed how he ran away from home at the age of 17 following an abusive childhood and became homeless. 

Troubling: De Mooi tweeted that his house is being possessed to compensate solicitors

Two days later: He told how things were looking better after speaking to an insolvency solicitor

Financial woes: The former BBC quiz master filed bankruptcy paperwork on September 26 last year

A spokesman for the star told MailOnline: ‘CJ’s current case has nothing to do with the murder arrest in 2017 which was thrown out when the Dutch prosecutor admitted “embarrassing errors” and it became clear CJ had never written anything about killing anyone. It was a lie written on his Wikipedia page but neither the judge nor police checked his book to verify. 

‘He declared bankruptcy in 2018 due to opposing solicitors trying to recoup costs relating to the false allegation of sexual assault made against CJ in 2016. 

‘The firm put in a claim against his only asset, the home owned with his husband, and is trying to force a sale. They are aware that CJ is very seriously ill so are apparently trying to force this through quickly. It is noted that the BBC suspended CJ on the very day he was questioned by police and fired him on the very day he was cleared of all suspicion. 

‘He has not worked since so has no savings and his only income is a disability benefit. It has been confirmed by a QC that at no point in the last three years since the case began has CJ broken the law or committed any offence whatsoever.’

The colourful career of quiz star CJ following a difficult childhood

CJ de Mooi became a panellist on the BBC Two show Eggheads, which features five quiz champions competing as a team against different challengers, in 2003 after winning a series of game shows.

De Mooi has previously said he ran away from home at the age of 17 following an abusive childhood and became homeless in Rotherham and Sheffield.

He described how he then travelled to Amsterdam via London, spending 18 months on a staircase in Amsterdam central train station. It was during this period that the alleged killing in 1988 was said to have taken place.

From Amsterdam de Mooi moved to Cologne in Germany, where a chance meeting outside a gay bar led to the beginnings of his modelling career.

De Mooi adopted his surname when modelling, and he translates it as Dutch for ‘handsome’.

After five years he returned to Amsterdam and by 2000 he was applying to appear on television game and quiz shows.

He was a contestant on Pass the Buck and Fifteen to One, but it was The Weakest Link that led to him receiving national attention. 

Despite consistently being the strongest player he was the third voted off and launched into a now infamous rant in his post-game interview.

In 2003 de Mooi received a phone call about a new concept quiz show called Eggheads, which features five quiz champions competing as a team against different challengers. 

One of the original quiz champions, in 2011 the star took a break to focus on his acting career before returning two years later.

He was also involved in a bitter row at the British Chess Championships in 2011 when he claimed he was barred from presenting the prizes because he was wearing a T-shirt promoting the gay rights organisation, Stonewall.

A former president of the English Chess Federation (ECF), de Mooi later offered his resignation to the ECF but it was rejected.

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