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Coronation Street actor's role 'behind child sex claim'

Andrew Lancel
Image caption Andrew Lancel described Frank Foster as a "horrendous" character

A former Coronation Street actor has told a court that the character he played in the show might have inspired child sex allegations against him.

Andrew Watkinson, 42, from Liverpool, denies six counts of indecently assaulting a teenage boy in the 1990s.

He described the character of Frank Foster to Liverpool Crown Court as "a rapist" and "horrendous".

The judge said he would be directing the jury to find Mr Watkinson not guilty on two of six counts he faces.

This was because the complainant could not be sure the alleged abuse happened before his 15th birthday.

Mr Watkinson, whose professional name is Andrew Lancel, remains on trial for the further four counts relating to when the complainant was 15.

The actor told the jury "in the back of his mind" he thought the allegations - alleged to have taken place when the complainant was attending a theatre group in 1993 and 94 - were to do with the "horrendous" character he played in Coronation Street.

'Is he drunk?'

He denies any sexual contact ever took place and instead said he told the court he acted as a "sort of mentor" to the boy.

Mr Watkinson told the court he received a text from the complainant, a man he described as a "mate" whom he had known for years and invited to his wedding, when he was playing the "high profile" role of Foster in the soap.

He thought the text message alleging what he had done was "massively illegal" may have been a "set-up".

He told the court: "I remember thinking is it a wind-up? Is it him? Is he stoned or is he drunk?"

The actor, who is married with a son, said he was heterosexual and denied "intimate contact" with his accuser. He also denied such contact with a second man who gave evidence in the trial, who accused him of performing a sex act on him when he was 15.

Andrew Menary QC, defending, asked Mr Watkinson if any of what the two men complained of had ever happened.

'Embarrassed and confused'

The actor replied: "Absolutely not."

Kim Whittlestone, prosecuting, said Mr Watkinson, then 23, met the teenager when he visited a theatre group and allegedly began taking the teenager for coffees.

The actor, who had just got a part in television show Cardiac Arrest, then took him to his house where the offences allegedly started.

Ms Whittlestone told the court after one early meeting, they went into an upstairs study where "the defendant began to touch him over his underwear".

The victim felt he could not tell the defendant to stop because he was "embarrassed and confused" as Mr Watkinson was an adult and a friend, the court heard.

Ms Whittlestone said Mr Watkinson "had every intention" of turning the friendship into a sexual one, with the ensuing assaults including oral sex.

Regarding the two charges that Mr Watkinson will be cleared of, Judge Clement Goldstone QC told the jury that the complainant had agreed while he was being cross-examined that he could not definitely say some of the allegations related to when he was still 14 years old.

Judge Goldstone told the jury: "In due course I will direct you to return not guilty verdicts on counts one and two."

The trial continues.

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