Two indecent assault charges against television presenter John Leslie have been dropped.
The former star thanked his girlfriend, family and friends
The former host of ITV's This Morning programme appeared at Southwark Crown Court in London over charges of attacking the same woman twice between 25 May and 28 May 1997.
The prosecution said no further action would be taken against him and offered no evidence, adding that it had "come into possession of further material that has led to the charges against the defendant being reviewed".
On the steps of the court, his voice cracking with emotion, Mr Leslie, 38, said he and his family "had been to hell and back", but he had always believed he would be cleared.
Visibly shaking, he said: "I am an innocent man. I have maintained my innocence throughout and today it's been justified."
Earlier in court, prosecutor Richard Horwell said: "The prosecution gladly acknowledges that he will leave this court without a stain on his character from this investigation."
Pressed by Mr Leslie's lawyer as to the nature of the "further material" that had led to the charges being dropped, Mr Horwell said it would be "misleading and confusing" to disclose it.
Reading out a statement, he said: "That information could not have been foreseen. Inevitably, it relates to the complainant.
"The source of the information is the complainant herself - that is very much to her credit.
"To say any more, however, would in our view be apt to mislead and would be unfair to the complainant."
The CPS statement also seemingly referred to allegations in the press arising from television presenter Ulrika Jonsson's autobiography.
It said: "In October 2002, a woman who is
well-known alleged that she had been sexually assaulted some years earlier.
"The allegation attracted much publicity. The complainant was not, however, prepared to identify her alleged assailant.
"In due course Mr Leslie's name was linked to that allegation. It is right to say that the person who made that original allegation chose not to co-operate with the police.
"Accordingly, that allegation remains no more than that - an allegation that the complainant chose not to substantiate."
Judge George Bathurst-Norman awarded costs to Mr Leslie.
The television presenter's girlfriend Abby Titmuss and parents Alexia and Leslie Stott were with him for Thursday's court hearing.
Mr Leslie - who has been offered a £1m deal to front his
own talk show on Sky - was arrested on 5 December last year by detectives from Scotland Yard's Special Inquiry Team after voluntarily going to police when allegations of sexual assault were made.
He was charged on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service following a lengthy investigation.
A former Blue Peter presenter, Mr Leslie joined This Morning in 1999 and took over as a full-time host with Fern Britton in 2001.
A statement from Granada indicated he would not be offered his old job back.
"We asked John Leslie to tell us what he was planning to do to challenge the claims that were being made against him.
"A week after these allegations were made we still had no response despite our repeated requests for information.
"Given his silence it became impossible for
him to continue to present the live daily show This Morning.
"We had to formally terminate his contract with ITV's agreement. On John's departure, we had no choice but to establish a new presenter line-up for This Morning.
"The presenters worked very well together and have proved very popular with viewers and we don't propose changing that."