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Actor 'dabbled with homosexuality'

The former Coronation Street actor at the centre of child sex abuse allegations told police he had "dabbled" with homosexuality when he was younger but categorically denied having any sexual relations with "minors or children", a court has heard.

Andrew Lancel, 42, was charged last November under his real name Andrew Watkinson. The actor, from Gateacre in Liverpool, is best known for his role as Frank Foster in the ITV soap.

Lancel has pleaded not guilty to six counts of indecent assault of a child under the age of 16 and is on trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

The charges relate to one male victim and the offending allegedly took place between 1993 and 1994 when he was aged 14 and 15.

The jury heard extracts from Lancel's police interviews in which he denied any wrongdoing.

Lancel, who is married with a son, told police he was heterosexual but said he had had "experiences other than with a female" when he was younger.

He told police that it was when he was "drunk at parties, sitting around. It was a bit of show-and-tell, you know". He said: "I have been around for a long time, you know. I'm 42 so I'm not going to lie and say I haven't dabbled." But he went on to tell police that he has a wife and he is not gay.

He said: "It's nothing. I've not broken any laws. I have been to parties, heavy parties. I've not broken any laws...I've never had a relationship with a man. I've never had sexual intercourse with a man and if I had I would tell you."

The prosecution claim the defendant used his "status" as an actor to flatter and gain the trust of the boy, whom he knew was under the age of consent. But in his police interviews Lancel denied that any inappropriate sexual activity took place.

He told the police that his accuser owed him money after he failed to pay him rent on the last occasion he let him stay at his London flat. But he said he was a "forgiving Christian" and that he was "very fond" of him.

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