Peel later admitted that Shirley would sometimes subject him to physical violence: according to Sheila, this began even before they left the States, with John ending up in hospital in Oklahoma City after Shirley threw a stone frog at this head.  JP hoped their moving to London would help the situation, but the reverse occurred. She withdrew into herself, became depressed and put on weight. Eventually, he decided to move out and live in an apartment in Regents Park. Peel was still married to Shirley, although living apart when he found his new love (soon later his 2nd wife) Sheila in 1968, where he met her at the studios of How It Is, which Peel was presenting. Despite the fact that they were separated, Shirley used to call him, making comments to Sheila that suggested stalking. Shirley and Peel were finally divorced in 1973 and in the same year she was convicted of drugs and fraud offences and sentenced to a period in Holloway Prison. Later on in life, she suffered a severe bout of depression and died from self-inflicted injuries.
After her death, Peel commented to the Sunday Correspondent in 1989 that:
"She fell in with some extremely dodgy people. She died last year as a result of a previous suicide attempt. She married three more times after me, and I was the only husband by whom she didn't have a child. All the children were in care. She did some terrible things, you know. She didn't deserve to die though." 
- Sunday Correspondent (Peel Interview in 1989)