Coronation Street star Bill Roache strenuously denies allegations he raped underage girl in 1967

Roache, 81, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire and was interviewed by police late into yesterday evening

The Coronation Street star Bill Roache today strenuously denied two historic rape allegations relating to an underage girl and said he was horrified by the events of the last twenty-four hours.

Roache, 81, was arrested at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and was interviewed by police late into yesterday evening.

In a statement issued by his lawyers today, he said: "I am astounded and deeply horrified by the extraordinary events of the last twenty-four hours." 

"I strenuously deny the allegations and will now focus my full attention on fighting to preserve my innocence in the challenging times ahead."

"I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all those people who have offered me their support and good wishes at this difficult time."

The Crown Prosecution Service has said he will face two charges of rape, and he will appear at Preston Magistrates’ Court on 14 May.

Roache, awarded an MBE in 2001, faces two allegations of raping the girl in Lancashire 46 years ago.

A statement from Lancashire Police said: "The offences are alleged to have been committed in Haslingden between April and July 1967 and to involve a girl aged 15 years."

"We have been reviewing evidence and providing early investigative advice to Lancashire Police since 1 March 2013.

"Having completed our review, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest for Mr Roache to be charged with two offences of rape relating to a girl, aged 15, in 1967."

Roache - the world's longest-serving soap actor - will not appear in the show while investigations continue.

An ITV spokesman said last night: "Bill Roache will not be appearing in Coronation Street until legal proceedings are concluded."

Roache, wearing a dark pullover, checked shirt and jacket, returned to his home last night, around 14 hours after his initial arrest, in a car driven by his solicitor.

Roache collected an award from Guinness World Records in 2010 for his long service in Coronation Street, having joined in 1960 and appearing regularly ever since.

Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North West said: "This decision was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and our guidance for prosecutors on sexual offences.

"Mr Roache has a right to a fair trial and it is therefore very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice that trial. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen