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Le Vell case 'properly brought'

The country's top prosecutor has told MPs it was the "right decision" to pursue a prosecution of now-acquitted Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell for child sex abuse charges.

Keir Starmer QC, outgoing director of public prosecutions, told the Home Affairs Select Committee a "proper assessment of the evidence was taken in the case".

His remarks come after Le Vell, known to millions of TV fans as the soap's garage owner and mechanic Kevin Webster, said he was looking forward to a drink after being cleared of 12 child sex offences at Manchester Crown Court.

Mr Starmer told the Committee: "A proper assessment was taken in the case and the decision to proceed was the right decision. There is a safeguard within our system and that is at the end of the prosecution's case in court, it is not only open to the judge it is the duty of the judge to stop the case if there's no case to answer.

"That did not happen in this case, and therefore there was a case to answer. That case was answered and the jury took some time to consider their verdict. So it was a properly brought case, it's not a case on which there was no evidence, had it been it would have been stopped half way after testing of the evidence."

He went on: "It is true, the test for the prosecutor is a realistic prospect of conviction and the test for the jury is whether the case is proved beyond all reasonable doubt having heard all the witnesses. But the fact that a decision was taken to start a case and it doesn't end up in conviction does not mean it was improperly brought. It's important we reaffirm that - that if a case results in an acquittal it shouldn't have been brought is wrong."

Le Vell, 48, mouthed the words "thank you" to the jury of eight women and four men who dismissed a string of allegations made by his accuser, who claimed she had been raped and abused while a young girl.

Earlier, 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.

Speaking of the Le Vell trial, actor Ken Morley, who played supermarket manager Reg Holdsworth in Coronation Street, told the Daily Mail: "There was never any physical or forensic evidence or psychiatric report. I think it will make people revise their attitudes and realise there has been an element of hysteria."

Le Vell's aunt, Pat Gallier, told the same newspaper: "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."

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