Sep 11 2013
A former Coronation Street actor has said he is "absolutely over the moon" after Michael Le Vell was cleared of child abuse charges.
Bruce Jones, who played Les Battersby in the long-running soap, said he was "so, so proud" of Le Vell, who he said could start rebuilding his life.
"My wife and I went to see him a month before the trial and he was quite up and he was quite adamant that he was going to clear his name and, thank God, his name has been cleared and God bless you Michael," Jones said.
"Michael was getting support from all over the place, a lot of support, and I am so, so proud of him now that he can go back to work, get on with his life, start rebuilding his life. Remember that he has lost two years of his life."
His remarks come after Le Vell, known to millions of TV fans as the soap's Kevin Webster, said on Tuesday that he was looking forward to a drink after he was cleared of child abuse charges.
The 48-year-old mouthed the words "thank you" to the jury of eight women and four men who dismissed a string of allegations made by his accuser, who claimed she had been raped and abused while a young girl.
Le Vell kept his emotions in check as his family members in the public gallery wept, as one by one, not guilty verdicts on the 12 counts were delivered. Jurors took just under five hours to reach their verdicts at Manchester Crown Court after they were told by the judge on Monday that their assessment of Le Vell's accuser was "critical".
The "demons" in Le Vell's private life were laid bare in the trial - his alcoholism and womanising while his wife battled breast cancer. The court heard of his "dark secrets", that he had a string of one-night stands and an affair behind the back of his wife of 25 years, actress Janette Beverley.
But while Le Vell might be described as a "weak, stupid and drunk man" and a "bad husband", he was not a child rapist, his barrister Alisdair Williamson told the jury. He walked out of court on Tuesday to a media scrum and thanked his family, his legal team and his employers, ITV, before he said with a smile: "And I might go have a drink now."
After the case, a spokeswoman for Coronation Street said: "We are looking forward to meeting with Michael to discuss his return to the programme."