A Bradford-based advice network is standing by its Coronation Street star patron Andrew Lancel after he was charged with indecently assaulting a child.

Learning Disabilities Hospital Support founder Maralyn Adey said the 42-year-old was innocent until proven otherwise.

“He’s a lovely man who has always been very supportive of us,” she said. “I’m not making any judgement – that will be up to the courts.

“I have spoken to him and he’s asked us to have faith in him. He’s determined to fight the allegations and clear his name. What is supposed to have happened, happened a very long time ago.

“I don’t know why it’s come to light now, except people seem to be jumping on the Savile bandwagon.”

The married actor told Mrs Adey he will be in court later this month but will be denying all five charges – it is believed the alleged offences against him date back to when he was a trainee actor and relate to a child under 16.

The celebrity, who played Inspector Neil Manson in The Bill before taking on the role of devious factory boss Frank Foster, has been bailed to appear at South Sefton Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, December 19.

Set to appear as the Wicked Wizard in Sleeping Beauty at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, he tweeted at the weekend: “My lovely followers and friends. Your support means the world. Have faith.”

Mrs Adey had asked the performer to become patron of LDHS (Learning Disabilities Hospital Support) after the previous Bradford charity he had been involved with and was co-run by her – BATI About Kidz – disbanded. They had met on set some years ago when Mrs Adey’s son Kristian, who has Down's Syndrome as well as heart and lung problems, was filming with him.

Kristian, now 28, was the inspiration behind the new LDHS group after spending eight weeks in hospital with a brain abscess.

The family's experience while he was a patient at Leeds General Infirmary was not easy because of a lack of communication between consultants and lack of information passed to ward nurses.

Mrs Adey, of Wrose, Shipley, came up with the national advice network as a way of helping people in the same situation know their rights and campaign for improvements.