There has been a bit of a witch-hunt against male celebrities in Britain over the last couple of years where they have been arrested - even with little evidence - on suspicion of child sex abuse.

One of those was actor Michael Le Vell, who has played garage mechanic Kevin Webster on Coronation Street - set on a street in Manchester it is the world's longest-running TV soap opera, having been on our screens since 1960 - since 1983.

Le Vell, 48, has been appearing at Manchester Crown Court on charges of sexually abusing a girl from the age of six.

But today, the man who has appeared on British weeknight TV screens almost every week for the last thirty years celebrated with a drink after a jury found him not guilty of all the charges.

Mr Le Vell mouthed 'thank you' to the eight women and four men and raised his hand to them after they returned not guilty verdicts for each of the 12 counts.

The jury accused the girl of being a liar and said that Le Vell was a victim of a celebrity witch-hunt.

Surrounded by friends and family on the steps of Manchester Crown Court, the 'delighted' 48-year-old said: 'I might go and have a drink' and minutes later he was celebrating with a pint in a nearby hotel.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is under pressure to explain why it brought the case to court, which friends of the star said was 'vindictive' and lacked 'clear evidence'.

Celebrating: Michael Le Vell was driven to a hotel near the crown court and as he predicted enjoyed a pint to mark being cleared of 12 child sex charges

Relief: Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell, one of Britain's best-loved soap stars, is hugged by his sister Sue on the steps of Manchester Crown Court

Relief: Michael Le Vell, who was tried under his real name Michael Turner, waved to fans and said he'd 'have a drink' to celebrate being found not guilty of rape and sexual assault of a child

Free man: Michael Le Vell celebrates as he is swept from Manchester Crown Court after being cleared of child sex charges

The jurors had been told they must decide if the alleged victim was telling the truth or set out to 'quite literally destroy the life' of the actor.

They believed Le Vell, who has played garage mechanic Kevin Webster in the ITV1 soap for 30 years and said the girl was a 'liar' and he was a victim of a celebrity witch hunt.

'Demons': Le Vell's trial laid bare his troubles with alcohol, but he rushed for a pint after his not guilty verdicts

The 48-year-old was never suspended by the ITV soap, and could be free to rejoin after he was cleared today.

After walking free from court, Le Vell said he was 'delighted' and thanked ITV for their 'continued support throughout this traumatic time for all of us'.

'It's a big weight off everyone's shoulders,' he said.

'I might go and have a drink now.'

Asked when he would return to Coronation Street, Le Vell replied: 'I don't know, I might have a holiday first. I'll have to go and have a chat with my boss.'

Commenting after the verdicts, a spokeswoman for Coronation Street said: 'We are looking forward to meeting with Michael to discuss his return to the programme.'

The 48-year-old was tried under his real name of Michael Turner, and denied five counts of rape, three of indecent assault, two counts of sexual activity with a child, and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

Garage mechanic Kevin Webster (Michael Le Vell) and his wife Sally in Coronation Street

Much-loved British institution Coronation Street has been on our screens since 1960, making it the world's longest-running TV soap opera and the second-longest soap opera on any format after the BBC radio soap opera The Archers

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Last edited by Blackleaf; Sep 10th, 2013 at 10:54 AM..