Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell, who has been charged with child sex offences, said in a statement that he is innocent of all charges and will “fight them vigorously”.
Le Vell, 48, whose real name is Michael Turner, is accused of 19 sex offences including raping a child, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child.
He said: “I would like to make it quite clear that following the serious allegations that have been brought against me on Thursday 14th February 2013, I am innocent of these charges and intend to fight them vigorously. I will now put all my efforts into clearing my name and proving my innocence. I thank my friends, family and fans for their continued support.”
ITV has said Le Vell will not be appearing in any further episodes of the soap pending the outcome of legal proceedings.
An ITV spokesman said: “Given the serious nature of these charges, Michael Le Vell will not be appearing in Coronation Street pending the outcome of legal proceedings. It would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this time.”
Le Vell, who has played car mechanic Kevin Webster for the past 30 years in the popular ITV show, will appear in court in two weeks’ time.
He was first arrested in September 2011 and questioned over alleged child sex offences, but the matter was later dropped.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the actor had been charged with sex offences against a youngster after a review of evidence by lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
He was not charged with offences after his initial arrest in September 2011 and the investigation was dropped three months later in late December, when the authorities said there would be no further action taken against him as there was not enough evidence to charge him.
Le Vell, a father of two, split from his wife Janette Beverley last year.