Coronation Street's Michael Le Vell charged with child rape

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Media captionMichael Le Vell's solicitor Richard Gowthorpe reads out a statement on his client's behalf

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has been charged with a string of sex offences, including raping a child.

Police said the actor, 48, who plays Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, is also accused of indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child.

Mr Le Vell, whose real name is Michael Turner, is due before magistrates in Manchester on 27 February.

He faces a total of 19 charges relating to crimes allegedly committed between 2001 and 2010.

Alison Levitt QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, said she had reviewed a decision not to prosecute Mr Le Vell following allegations made against him in 2011.

'Fight charges vigorously'

She said: "I have very carefully reviewed the evidence in this case and I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Michael Robert Turner with a number of sexual offences.

"I have authorised Greater Manchester Police to charge Mr Turner with 19 offences, including rape of a child.

"Mr Turner has now been charged with criminal offences and has a right to a fair trial."

In a statement Mr Le Vell said he was innocent of all charges and would "fight them vigorously".

An ITV spokesman said: "Given the serious nature of these charges, Michael Le Vell will not be appearing in Coronation Street pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

"It would not be appropriate for us to comment further at this time."

The actor, from Hale in Greater Manchester, has played the role of garage mechanic Kevin Webster for 30 years, making him one of the longest-serving performers in Coronation Street.