1. ITV Report

Clegg defends CPS after William Roache cleared of abuse

Nick Clegg has defended the Crown Prosecution Service. Photo: PA

Nick Clegg has mounted a robust defence of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) after Coronation Street star William Roache was cleared of alleged sex offences.

The Deputy Prime Minister said it was right that cases were played out in court when there was considered to be a "reasonable chance" of securing a conviction.

Roache, 81, who plays Ken Barlow in the ITV soap, was found not guilty of two counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault.

The veteran actor was alleged to have used his fame and popularity to exploit the "starstruck" girls, aged 16 and under, between the mid-60s and early-70s.

The women told jurors they were sexually abused by the defendant either at Granada Studios in Manchester, in his car or at properties he owned.

Speaking on the steps of Preston Crown Court yesterday, Mr Roache 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."

Nazir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for CPS North West, insisted the case had been "treated like any other".

"What mattered were the allegations and the evidence and nothing else, and we fully respect the decisions of the jury and thank them for their careful deliberation," he said.

On his regular LBC radio phone-in this morning, Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg said: "I understand why people are saying why on Earth has this case been brought... but the CPS have got a really really difficult job.

"Just imagine if they were not taking cases forward where really serious allegations were made.

"They would be subject to a huge amount of criticism for not taking those allegations.

"That is the way the justice system works.

"I wasn't in court. I am not a lawyer, of course the CPS will need to look at everything that came to light in the court an really stress test whether they did all the necessary due diligence and all the right homework.

"But I will always defend the right of the CPS to say, look this is a case of sufficient seriousness, we think there is sufficient evidence that there is a reasonable chance of this being followed through to a conviction - it should now be played out in court. That is what a court is there for."

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