CPS insists Roache's celebrity status did not affect decision

The Crown Prosecution Service insisted William Roache's celebrity status did not affect their decision to put him on trial, after some of the actors friends and colleagues questioned whether his case should have gone to court.

The 81-year-old actor was cleared of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault by a jury at Preston Crown Court today after a four-week-trial.

Bill Roache's defence barrister, Louise Blackwell QC, claimed the whole case against her client was "nonsense", with the trial haunted by the "spectre" of Jimmy Savile.

ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reports:

Read: Coronation Street actor William Roache insists there are 'no winners' after acquittal

Christine Hamilton, a friend of Roache, questioned the decision to prosecute him saying, "why did the Crown Prosecution Service did not test the allegations a little more strongly".

Hamilton, who along with her husband has been subject to sex allegations, also suggested that the "pendulum has swung too far" in the direction of those making the allegations.

However, lawyer Liz Dux, who represents more than 70 of Jimmy Savile's victims, insisted the "pendulum has swung back evenly" which ensured victims were able to be listened to sensitively.

She said it was right to bring alleged historic offences to trial to be properly tested in the courts.

Senior prosecutor Nazir Afzal insisted that each case was assessed on its own merits denying claims there was an ongoing "celebrity witchhunt"

Mr Afzal, who is also the national lead on child sexual exploitation for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ''I absolutely detest this word 'witch hunt'. It is not a witch hunt. We look at the evidence. We follow the evidence. We present the evidence.''

Roache was found not guilty of a string of sexual offences today. Credit: PA Wire

The police force that investigated the claims against William Roache said it had worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure the evidence was given "careful scrutiny" before the actor was charged.

Lancashire Constabulary said it remained committed to "investigating allegations of this nature, no matter how historic".