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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 15:18 GMT
TV star Kelly wins public support
Matthew Kelly
Matthew Kelly strenuously denies the allegations
Presenter Matthew Kelly was cheered as he returned to perform in a pantomime protesting his innocence against claims of sexual abuse against boys.

He "emphatically denies" allegations of sexual abuse against young boys, he said in a statement.

The 52-year-old Stars In Their Eyes host was applauded at the Birmingham Repertory theatre, where he is performing in Peter Pan as he thanked the audience for their support.

You obviously know it's a really hard time

Matthew Kelly

Before he went on stage in his role as Captain Hook on Thursday, his solicitors made a statement on his behalf.

Mr Kelly, from Chiswick, west London, had earlier been released on police bail after a day of questioning by Surrey Police, and is due to return to Guildford police station on 12 March.

He had been held in connection with "historic allegations" of sexual abuse against boys under 16, police said.

Tam Paton, the former manager of 1970s pop band The Bay City Rollers who was arrested as part of the same investigation, has also been released on bail until 12 March by the force.

But Mr Paton was immediately re-arrested by Lothian and Borders officers in connection with alleged drugs offences and is due to appear in court in Edinburgh on Friday.

'Shock and surprise'

Mr Kelly had been arrested at the theatre on Wednesday night.

After taking his bow in the pantomime Mr Kelly said: "I would just like to say a very big thank you for your support in this.

"You obviously know it's a really hard time.

"Thank you for your time".

Matthew Kelly as Captain Hook
Kelly has been playing Captain Hook on stage
London-based law firm Kingsley Napley said the accusations were not true.

"Mr Kelly emphatically denies the allegation made against him which has come as a complete shock and surprise," said the statement.

"He has co-operated fully today with the police and will of course continue to do so should that be necessary. It should be noted that he has been released without charge."

King link

Mr Kelly - who is married with two grown-up children - had been held by police for 20 hours.

At the Birmingham theatre its manager Nigel Cairns said: "We are delighted that he has been able to make the show.

Tam Paton in 1976
Tam Paton, former manager of the Bay City Rollers, was also arrested

Audience member Karen Smith, from Staffordshire, said: "He has been really good and I'm very glad that he did turn up."

Granada, which makes ITV1 show Stars In Their Eyes, has refused to comment on the investigation.

There are no new editions of the show scheduled.

Jonathan King

Both Mr Kelly and Mr Paton were arrested as part of the sex abuse inquiry that led to the conviction of pop mogul Jonathan King.

King was jailed for seven years in November 2001 after he was found guilty of four indecent assaults and two serious sexual offences against boys, carried out in the 1980s.

He was also registered as a sex offender and banned from working with children.

Surrey Police insisted their investigation was focused on specific allegations and was not a "wide-ranging trawl into the show business world".

They are searching "a number of addresses" in connection with the arrests of Mr Kelly and Mr Paton.

It is believed the accusations all date from the 1970s, and the inquiry has been ongoing for several months.

  The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"He looked relaxed despite a day of questioning"
See also:

16 Jan 03 | Entertainment
16 Jan 03 | Entertainment
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