CLOSE pals of Strictly Come Dancing star Ricky Whittle today rallied round to say he “would not hurt anyone”.
The Hollyoaks actor missed dress rehearsals in London yesterday afternoon while he was held at a St Helens police station.
He was arrested on suspicion of assault after he allegedly struck photographer Steve Farrell, 34, with his car in Liverpool’s Duke Street.
Ricky, who is set to dance in tonight’s show, was later released on police bail pending further inquiries.
Hollyoaks bosses said he was planning legal action against Mr Farrell.
Today, ex-girlfriend and co-star Carley Stenson, 27, said: “It is ludicrous to think he would hurt anyone.
“Ricky is a chilled and friendly guy.
“We were both out with our friends at their leaving party and we had had a really good night.”
The incident took place as Ricky left Parr Street Studios, where he and Hollyoaks cast members had attended two co-stars’ leaving party.
It is understood he left the venue and headed for his car at around 1.30am on Friday.
It is alleged as Ricky drove off, his Dodge Ram pick-up truck struck Mr Farrell, leaving him with minor injuries.
Paramedics were called to the scene but the photographer declined immediate treatment.
He later took himself to a hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.
A source said: “Ricky came straight from his rehearsals in Liverpool to the party.
“It was the leaving do for Lena Kaur and Zoe Lister.
“Zoe announced on twitter it was her Liverpool party that night, but the photographers already knew where they were going to be.
“Ricky is not drinking at the moment because of Strictly, so he decided to drive.
“When he came out, he noticed the photographers and jumped in his car.
“As he was driving away he supposedly caught Steve.”
A BBC spokesman confirmed Ricky would dance in tonight’s show.
A Hollyoaks spokesman said: “Ricky was released and no charges have yet been brought against him.
“He is very disappointed with the harassment he has suffered from the paparazzi and has instructed lawyers to take the appropriate steps in relation to the photographer.”
A Merseyside police spokesman said: “Police can confirm a 29-year-old man from Billinge, who was arrested on suspicion of assault, was released on police bail pending further inquiries.
“It followed an incident in Duke Street in the early hours of this morning.”