Coronation Street star Michael Le Vell has said that he intends to “vigorously” fight the 19 sexual offences, including an allegation of child rape, that he has been charged with. In a statement, the 48-year-old actor 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. I would ask now for time to concentrate on preparing my defence with my legal team.”
The actor’s character Kevin Webster will not feature in any future episodes of the soap, and will be cut out of scenes that have already been filmed.
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.”
A Corrie insider told RadioTimes.com that Le Vell had filmed “a few background scenes” for upcoming episodes and confirmed that these will not be aired.
Le Vell, who has been a regular on the soap for three decades, faces 19 charges relating to offences that are alleged to have taken place between 2001 and 2010.
The charges follow a review by public prosecutors of allegations first made against the actor, real name Michael Turner, in 2011. At the time a decision was taken not to prosecute Le Vell.
Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions today said: "I have very carefully reviewed the evidence in this case and I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Michael Robert Turner with a number of sexual offences.
"I have authorised Greater Manchester Police to charge Mr Turner with 19 offences, including rape of a child.
"Mr Turner has now been charged with criminal offences and has a right to a fair trial."
He is due to appear at Manchester Magistrates on Wednesday 27 February.