The niece of late Blackpool favourite John Inman has described claims he sexually assaulted a teen in the 70s as ‘ubelievable’ and ‘horrendous’.
Devon and Cornwall Police are investigating allegations the Are You Being Served? sitcom legend abused the 13-year-old boy at a hotel in Torquay.
The iconic TV star, who played camp shop assistant Mr Humphries in the BBC series, is the latest high-profile name to be linked to claims of historic abuse.
Inman’s family have branded the probe a witchhunt and are worried ‘all sorts of people will say anything in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal’.
Niece Debra Inman said: “I’m in total shock. Accusing him of this is just awful. It’s unbelievable, horrendous.
“You look at all the Jimmy Savile stuff and who is jumping on the bandwagon – people seeing an opportunity.
“John was a national treasure, a lovely man.”
Speaking from her resort home, she asked why the alleged victim had waited over 35 years to make the claims.
She said: “Why not when that person was alive? Then they could defend themselves, prove their innocence. But he can’t now, can he?
“There’s no way he can defend himself.”
Inman, who died in 2007 at the age of 71, was one of the biggest names on TV when the alleged incidents are said to have taken place in the summer of 1979.
Detectives are looking into claims Inman forced the schoolboy, now 48, to perform sex acts on him in exchange for an acting role.
The alleged victim claims he was groomed by a friend of Inman at the poolside of the Imperial Hotel.
Wearing a pink robe, the accomplice allegedly pursued the boy by exposing himself in the changing rooms and inviting him to Inman’s room.
It is claimed the abuse was repeated twice at the hotel and again at the nearby Princess Theatre.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: “We are investigating an allegation of historic sexual abuse by two men against a boy in Torquay in 1979. The investigation, being led by the Force’s Sexual Offences and Domestic Abuse Team, is at an early stage and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further.”