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Le Vell prosecution 'heartbreaking'

Former Coronation Street star Helen Flanagan has said the prosecution of Michael Le Vell was "heartbreaking" for everyone who knows the actor.

Le Vell, known to millions of TV fans as the soap's garage owner and mechanic Kevin Webster, was cleared of 12 child sex offences at Manchester Crown Court earlier this week..

Flanagan, who played his on-screen daughter Rosie, told ITV's Daybreak the court result was "just a massive relief".

She said: "Everyone who knows him on Coronation Street, everyone that does know him, is friends with him, knew that he would be found not guilty.

"It was terrible he had to go through that in the first place, I don't think anyone could imagine what he's been through.

"It was just awful, it was absolutely heartbreaking for everyone and he's the loveliest man."

Le Vell's aunt Pat Gallier and several other Coronation Street colleagues have claimed he was taken to court because of his celebrity status.

Pat told the Daily Mail: "The police seem to be arresting celebrities and accusing them of child sex offences without seeming to check if there's enough evidence. Michael's been caught up in this witch-hunt."

But Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service national lead on child sexual exploitation, said "nobody should be above the law" and it is the Crown's job to look at evidence, follow it wherever it may go and then present it.

Mr Afzal, who is also Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, made the initial decision not to charge Le Vell after he was first arrested in September 2011 but that was later over-ruled by Alison Levitt QC, the principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions for England. He 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."

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