Coronation Street star William Roache has been found not guilty of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault.
Mr Roache, 81, of Wilmslow, Cheshire has been on trial since 14 January at Preston Crown Court, where he has been accompanied by his family throughout.
Speaking outside the courtroom, he said today: “In these situations there are no winners and I think we should all be a lot kinder to ourselves. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to get back to work.”
The actor, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, was alleged to have indecently assaulted girls in the lavatories and dressing rooms at Granada’s studios in Manchester, in his car and at properties he owned between the years of 1965 and 1971.
While under examination, he said he had no knowledge of any of the women he was supposed to have assaulted, that sexual abuse was not in his “nature” and that he had no interest in underage girls. A further charge of indecent assault had been dropped earlier in the trial due to insufficient evidence.
During the trial, three of Mr Roache’s Coronation Street co-stars – Anne Kirkbride, Chris Gascoyne and Helen Worth – testified on his behalf, the latter describing her colleague as “a father figure, an elder statesman”.
Mr Roache has not been seen on screen as Ken Barlow since 29 April 2013, his absence put down to an impromptu trip that the character had to make to Canada.
After learning of today’s verdict, ITV said in statement: “We look forward to talking to Bill soon about his return to work.”