Emmerdale actor Lewis Linford was today found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a nightclub.
Linford, 22, had been accused of assaulting the semi-professional model, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in December 2007 at the Pozition club in Hull, East Yorkshire.
The woman claimed he fondled her bottom, tried to put his hand up her dress and asked her to have sex with him.
But a jury of seven men and five women at Hull Crown Court cleared Linford, who appeared under his real name of Lewis Smales, of the charge.
Linford was accused of assaulting the woman after he started talking to her in a queue for a cash machine inside the club.
The woman said an argument ensued after Linford pushed in the queue and that is when he assaulted her.
But Linford said it was the complainant who attacked him.
He said she got extremely angry when he began to use the ATM machine when she was distracted.
He told the court: "(the woman) came up to me and said, 'What the f****** hell do you think you're doing pushing in?'
"She was very angry.
"I just didn't want any trouble. She was being very aggressive."
Members of Linford's family inside the court muttered a collective "yes" as the not guilty verdict was delivered and outside the courtroom Linford was embraced by members of his legal team and family.
Speaking on the steps of Hull Crown Court, Linford said: "It's been very testing. It's not only me but my family as well.
"That upsets me more.
"I'd just like to say how relieved I am to be found innocent of this allegation.
"The impact it's had on my family over the last 20 months is devastating."
When asked if he thought people accused of sexual assault should remain anonymous until a verdict is reached, he said: "I feel if people are accused of these allegations both should remain anonymous until you are found guilty.
"If one is found guilty you expect your name to be branded in any newspaper in the planet but until then you should remain anonymous."
Celebrity lawyer Nick Freeman also spoke outside the court, saying: "It took the jury just seven minutes to return a not guilty verdict.
"This was a wicked lie fabricated by a misguided young lady.
"She has been entitled to luxuriate behind a veil of anonymity for several months, this has been going on now for about 20 months whilst Lewis has been exposed to the full spotlight of the media glare.
"In my view, the law should be changed so that people who are charged with these sorts of allegations are afforded the same degree of protection as their accusers until such a time as they are convicted.
"I cannot see how exposing people in this way serves the course of British justice."
He also said Linford - who played gamekeeper Lee Naylor in the ITV soap before leaving in June - just wanted to get on with his life but is also considering making a formal complaint to the police about the woman for assault, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice."Reuse content