Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has denied a series of child sex offences.
Le Vell, who plays car mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, pleaded not guilty to 19 charges during the brief hearing at Manchester Crown Court yesterday.
The 48-year-old is charged, under his real name of Michael Turner, with offences including six counts of raping a child, six allegations of indecently assaulting a child and seven counts of sexual activity with a child.
The alleged offences relate to one complainant and allegedly occurred between 2002 and 2010. Eleanor Laws, QC, prosecuting, asked for the indictment to be put to the defendant, addressed as Michael Robert Turner, who then denied all the charges.
Le Vell remained seated for most of the 15-minute hearing, which was largely taken up by Ms Laws and Le Vell’s barrister, Alisdair Williamson, making case management arrangements for the forthcoming trial, expected to last up to two weeks, later this year.
At the end of the hearing Judge Michael Henshell addressed the defendant.
“Stand up, Mr Turner,” he said. “Your trial will take place on the 2nd of September; you remain on bail in that time, subject to the same conditions.”
Le Vell bowed his head and replied: “Thank you.”
Earlier, photographers and TV camera crews swarmed around the actor as he arrived at court with his legal team and a minder.
Le Vell, from Hale, Cheshire, was first arrested in September 2011 and questioned over child sex allegations but the matter was later dropped.
However, in January, the Crown Prosecution Service said it was in the public interest to charge him with the current offences following a review of evidence.
The father of two, originally from Manchester, is one of TV’s most famous faces after playing the garage owner and mechanic for 30 years.
ITV has said he will not be appearing in any further episodes of the television series pending the outcome of legal proceedings.
In a statement following his arrest, Le Vell said he was innocent of the charges and intended to “fight them vigorously”.