Liverpool

Strictly star Ricky Whittle denies dangerous driving

Ricky Whittle, arriving at court
Image caption Mr Whittle denies the charge

Strictly Come Dancing star Ricky Whittle has denied he deliberately drove his car into a photographer.

The former Hollyoaks actor is alleged to have knocked over Stephen Farrell after leaving a party for the cast of the soap in Liverpool last November.

The 30-year-old, from Billinge, Greater Manchester, told Liverpool Crown Court he had no idea his car had swerved until police showed him CCTV footage.

He denies a charge of dangerous driving on 27 November 2009.

The court was told he had recently split from his partner - and fellow Hollyoaks star - Carley Stenson.

Mr Whittle said he and Ms Stenson had remained on good terms after they broke up and he had offered her a lift home from the party.

He said they both feared being pictured together would lead to further speculation about their relationship so they decided he would move his car around the corner from the bar and she would follow him on foot.

Revved engine

But the group of photographers followed her and a friend as they walked to meet the actor in his red Dodge Ram truck.

Mr Whittle said one of the photographers put down his camera, saying he had what he needed, but Mr Farrell continued taking pictures.

He said: "Mr Farrell jumped across in front of the car and was taking pictures through the windscreen."

Mr Whittle said he was forced to shield his eyes because Mr Farrell was using a bright, night-time flash on his camera.

He added: "I revved my engine, indicating that I wanted to move the car away.

"I was using the frame of the car between the windscreen and the driver-side door to shield from the flash.

"I was aware the road ahead was clear so I put the car in gear and escaped."

The jury has been shown CCTV of the incident showing his car swerving to the left and clipping Mr Farrell before driving away from the scene.

Mr Whittle said he had no idea the car had swerved until he saw the footage after he was arrested.

He said he had always got on well with paparazzi photographers, but the attention became more intense when it became clear he was a favourite to win the BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing.

He said: "As soon as I joined Strictly my profile went through the roof and I guess the value of my photograph went up as well.

"I now had anything between three, five or eight paparazzi following me at any one time."

The case continues.

More on this story