Coronation Street star William Roache has apologised for making controversial comments that appeared to suggest victims of sexual crimes were being punished for their behaviour in previous lives.
The actor, who has played Ken Barlow in the popular soap for more than 50 years, seemed to suggest that some could have attracted ‘bad karma’ that could have led to their abuse, during an interview with New Zealand's One News show.
But he has now accepted the comments made were unacceptable and has apologised for causing any offence.
A statement released on behalf of the 80-year-old actor today read: "I would like to say that I am very sorry for any offence that has been caused as a result of my comments.
"I would never say that victims of sexual offences are in any way responsible for the abuse they have suffered and I offer my deepest apologies if anything I have said has been misunderstood in this way.
"I had no intention of causing any kind of distress as a result of my interview and I offer my utmost sympathies to anyone affected by sexual offences and paedophilia."
There was a furore after Bill was interviewed on the New Zealand TV show and started talking about his quest to promote the message of ‘pure love’ and forgiveness amongst all people, which he also talked about on British television last week.
When the topic moved onto the issue of sex abuse and the horrific allegations that have arisen as part of the Jimmy Savile scandal, Bill commented: “If you accept that you are pure love, and if you know that you are pure love and therefore live that pure love, these things won't happen to you."
One News interviewer Garth Bray then replied: "To some people that sounds perhaps like you're saying victims bring things on themselves - is that what you're saying?"
Bill responded: "No, not quite, but and yet I am, because everything that happens to us has been a result of what we have been in previous lives or whatever."
He then went on to suggest that there are a band of people “on the fringes” who shouldn’t automatically be branded ‘paedophiles’.
Bill explained: "Paedophilia is absolutely horrendous. Paedophiles should be sought out, rooted out and dealt with.
"But there's a fringe of people who, particularly pop singers, they have these groupies, these girls, who come, they're sexually active, sexually mature, they don't ask for their birth certificate, they don't know what age they may be.
"But they're certainly not grooming them and exploiting them, but they can be caught in this trap.”
He added: "These people are instantly stigmatised, some will be innocent, some will not, but until such time as it's proven there should be anonymity for both.
“We shouldn't go around condemning, unforgiving. We should all be totally forgiving about everything."
Bill’s comments were condemned by the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC).