Tuesday, December 22, 1998 Published at 16:07 GMT
Bill star cleared of assault
The jury took 90 minutes to clear Mr Murray on all charges
Actor William Murray - star of police drama The Bill - has been cleared of attacking two heroin addicts he believed were supplying drugs to his 14-year-old daughter.
Mr Murray, 57, who plays Detective Sergeant Don Beech in the ITV show, was accused of causing affray and assaulting Brian Basquill, 23, and Andrew Joyce, 20, in Brentwood, Essex, in March.
Mr Murray, also of Brentwood, had denied the charges and had already been cleared of allegedly intimidating a witness.
Accused of punching
After being formally discharged by Judge Peter Thompson and told his defence costs would be paid from public funds, he left the dock and kissed his two female solicitors.
The trial had been told that the actor and three other men had attacked Mr Basquill and Mr Joyce.
Mr Murray was said to have punched Mr Basquill in the head and Mr Joyce in the face, leaving them bruised.
Mr Murray said on that day he had been suffering from a mouth abscess and a cracked collarbone after falling down stairs - and was in no condition to hit anyone.
Mr Murray had wept as he told the jury how he and his wife, Elaine, had battled to prevent their teenage daughter taking drugs.
Late in 1997 the teenager - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had started to stay out all night and lie to her parents about being with friends, they said.
Mr Murray, a father-of-four, and his wife had then found her diary in which she talked of "getting stoned" and "od'g" (overdosing) at "Joycey's".
The court was told how in the following months his daughter had been expelled from school and stolen a cash card from her mother and used it to obtain drugs.
The teenager had believed she was in love with Mr Basquill, a self-confessed heroin addict with convictions for possessing drugs and theft, and had told her parents that she had slept with him.
He told the court that his daughter had moved away from Brentwood and was now "much better".
Outide the court, Mr Murray said he would act the same way again to protect his daughter from drugs.
He said: "I'd only be as I was - vigilant not vigilante.
"It has been a nightmare. This year, someone hijacked it. It did not really exist. Now all I have is two days before Christmas to try to get a family atmosphere in my house.
"No-one realises the problems. They [drugs] are in all the schools, even the so-called posh schools. There is a problem there."
Mrs Murray added: "I am tremendously relieved. My daughter is sorting out her life. It is all behind her now.
"She felt totally awful because she was carrying a burden of guilt. We want to put it behind us and start again. It was the influence of the people she was mixing with."