Corrie star Bill Roache apologises for abuse comments

Bill Roache plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street. Photo: Dave Thompson/PA Archive

Bill Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, has apologised after he suggested that victims of paedophiles bring abuse upon themselves because of what they have done in previous lives.

The 80-year-old actor, who has played Barlow in the soap for more than 50 years, said he was "very sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments".

"I would never say that victims of sexual offences are in any way responsible for the abuse they have suffered and I offer my deepest apologies if anything I have said has been misunderstood in this way", he added.

ITV News North of England Correspondent Damon Green reports:

During an interview with New Zealand's One News, Roache said the public should be "totally forgiving" of people who have committed child sex crimes.

Talking about the Jimmy Savile sex abuse revelations, he defended people "on the fringes", especially pop stars, who he said were "caught in this trap" by sexually active young female groupies:

  • Roache: "If you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won't happen to you."
  • Interviewer Garth Bray: "To some people that sounds perhaps like you're saying victims bring things on themselves - is that what you're saying?"
  • Roache: "No, not quite, but and yet I am, because everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever."

His comments were condemned by the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), which said his comments were an insult to abuse victims.

The Coronation Street actor also called for anonymity for all those accused of child sex offences because of the stigma they faced even if innocent.

Paedophilia is absolutely horrendous. Paedophiles should be sought out, rooted out and dealt with.

But there's a fringe of people who, particularly pop singers, they have these groupies, these girls, who come, they're sexually active, sexually mature, they don't ask for their birth certificate, they don't know what age they may be.

But they're certainly not grooming them and exploiting them, but they can be caught in this trap.

These people are instantly stigmatised, some will be innocent, some will not, but until such time as it's proven there should be anonymity for both.

– Bill Roache

He added that the public should be "totally forgiving" and that the law would "take its course."

If someone has done something wrong the law will take its course.

But even so, all of them, whether they are proven guilty or not, we should not be judgmental about anybody, ever.

We shouldn't go around condemning, unforgiving. We should all be totally forgiving about everything.

– Bill Roache

Dr Jon Bird, from NAPAC, condemned Roache's "hippy-dippy" spiritualist beliefs, saying child sex abuse left people with horrific physical and mental scars.

Abuse is a crime. The rape of a child is an appalling crime and the long term effects we here about include suicide.

There is a whole range of terrible consequences that are life-long.

This is a real insult, it is horrible. I think a lot of people will be deeply offended by what he said.

– Dr Jon Bird, from the National Association for People Abused in Childhood

An ITV spokesman said, "These were personal comments that Bill made for which he has apologised".