Ofcom won't take action over Coronation Street episode
'Coronation Street' is not going to be investigated by Ofcom regarding an episode about the current grooming storyline.
An episode of the soap was broadcast by ITV on February 17 which featured 16-year-old schoolgirl Bethany Platt (Lucy Fallon) being bedded by the much older salon owner Nathan Curtis after getting drunk in a club and taken back to his house.
Ofcom - also known as the Office of Communications, the government-approved regulatory body for the UK broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries - has now looked into what was aired by the programme and has decided what featured on screen was "neither graphic nor violent".
A statement released by the body said: "We assessed complaints about this storyline. We concluded the content was neither graphic nor violent, and took into account Coronation Street's established role in covering challenging or distressing social issues."
The NSPCC - the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children - worked with the writers on 'Coronation Street' and the cast for the storyline has also released a statement on the episode insisting it is conveying the uncomfortable truths about grooming to the British public.
The charity said: "Soaps play an important part in highlighting abuse, and in giving victims the courage to speak out and in signposting them to help and support. It can make for difficult viewing, but it's vital this type of abuse is portrayed as realistically as possible. We hope it will raise awareness of the signs of grooming and encourage more victims to come forward and seek help.
"The NSPCC has been working with 'Coronation Street' writers to ensure their current grooming storyline gives an accurate reflection of how abusers exploit and manipulate their victims.
"Practitioners from our Protect and Respect service which supports children and young people who have been, or are at risk of being, sexually exploited, provided advice on the language and scenarios and continue to consult on the storyline."
The NSPCC also revealed that a real-life sex abuse victim, known as 'Lucie', bravely shared her story with the actors and writers as they researched grooming.
The statement added: "We are also very grateful to the bravery of Lucie, a victim of child sexual exploitation, who shared her experiences with the writers and actors involved as part of their research for this sensitive storyline."
An episode of 'Coronation Street' which aired last week showed Bethany and Nathan's assistant Mel (Sonia Ibrahim) - who is being controlled by the domineering and devious character - at a party which was actually the gathering of a sex ring of men.
The uncomfortable scenes prompted numerous posts on social media criticising the storyline and two official complaints to Ofcom which are being investigated.
Harper, 39, previously spoke out to say he hopes the harrowing storyline will shed light on the issue and help more victims of paedophiles find the courage to come forward.
He said: "Nothing can desensitise you to what survivors of sexual exploitation have gone through. It's the most important storyline I've ever had. It's massively important I get this right for them. We want to reach out to people to let them know help is out there, and to tell abusers they can't get away with it. Half the problem is getting people to come forward. It's been said that for every one person reporting abuse, another seven don't."