ITV drops Coronation Street's Michael Le Vell from the soap amid child rape charges

He has been pulled off air from his role as garage boss Kevin Webster, pending the outcome of legal proceedings

The Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell has been charged with 19 child sex offences, including raping a child, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child.

The 48-year-old, who plays garage boss Kevin Webster in the ITV soap, will appear in court in two weeks' time, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

ITV says Le Vell, whose real name is Michael Turner, has been pulled off air from his role as Kevin Webster, pending the outcome of legal proceedings.

Le Vell, a stalwart on the popular ITV series, was first arrested in September 2011 and questioned over alleged child sex offences, but the matter was later dropped.

Alison Levitt, QC, principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions, had reviewed a file of evidence in relation to allegations of sexual offences and looked again at the decision previously made not to prosecute.

Ms Levitt said: “I have very carefully reviewed the evidence in this case and I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Michael Robert Turner with a number of sexual offences.

”I have authorised Greater Manchester Police to charge Mr Turner with 19 offences, including rape of a child.“

A spokeswoman from GMP said: ”Michael Turner, of Byrom Street, Hale, has been charged with 19 offences including raping a child, indecently assaulting a child and sexual activity with a child.

“He is due to appear at Manchester Magistrates on Wednesday February 27. The charges, which were authorised by the CPS following a review of evidence, relate to offences against a child between 2001 and 2010.”

Le Vell, a father of two, is currently involved in some of the soap's main storylines. He is one of TV's most famous faces after playing car mechanic Kevin Webster for the past 30 years in the TV show.

Le Vell, originally from Manchester, began his acting career in the Oldham Theatre Workshop after taking an interest in amateur dramatics while at school.

He first joined the soap in 1983 and quickly endeared himself to fans who have followed the trials and tribulations of Kevin, from Brian Tilsley's apprentice mechanic through to his stormy marriage to Sally, played by Sally Dynevor, and fathering two teenage girls as well as a love child from his affair with Molly Dobbs.

The actor split from his wife Janette Beverley last year.