Coronation Street star William Roache said there were “no winners” after he was cleared of historic sex offences against five women.
Roache, 81, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, was found not guilty by a jury of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault following a four-week trial at Preston Crown Court.
Speaking on the steps of the court, he said: “I have just got one thing to say, in these situations there are no winners and I think we should all be much kinder to ourselves. Now if you will excuse me I would like to get back to work.”
Several members of the jury that had taken just short of six hours to clear him of the allegations watched as Roache read out a statement to the media.
He thanked his employers, ITV Granada, his legal team, family, friends and colleagues for their support - as well as those people he did not know who had wished him well.
Roache did not respond when asked if the trial had been “a witch-hunt”.
In her closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Anne Whyte said that if Roache was telling the truth and the complainants were all liars then he could be seen as a victim of “a huge, distorted, perverse witch-hunt”.
Friends and colleagues of actor William Roache have expressed their relief and support after the actor was cleared of abuse charges - and looked forward to his return to TV.
Charlie Condou, who plays Marcus Dent in Coronation Street, wrote online: “So glad and relieved the right verdict was reached. Look forward to seeing Bill back at work.”
Vicky Entwistle - the programme’s Janice Battersby - said she and her husband Andrew Chapman were pleased with the verdict.
“Andy and I (are) elated to hear the wonderful news that William Roache has been cleared of all charges. We have a very happy house,” she wrote on Twitter.
Kate Ford, who has played his on-screen stepdaughter Tracy Barlow for many years, said simply: “Yay!”
Chris Bisson, known to viewers for his role as Vikram Desai, said he was “glad to hear that Bill Roache was cleared unanimously by the jury”.
And Bruno Langley (the show’s Todd Grimshaw) said on Twitter: “Go on Bill.”