Dennis the Menace ? Fury as Dennis Waterman admits he hit Rula Lenska

The New Tricks actor Dennis Waterman has been accused of trivialising domestic violence after he described hitting his former wife Rula Lenska but said she was not “a beaten wife”.

Waterman, best known for playing Terry McCann in ITV’s Minder, told Piers Morgan he was “very, very ashamed” of the attack.

“The problem with strong, intelligent women is that they can argue, well. And if there is a time where you can’t get a word in … I lashed out.”

During the interview for Morgan’s Life Stories series, which will be aired next month,  Waterman said he might have had too much to drink to remember everything that happened.

“I must have punched her one time because she did have a black eye,” he said. But he added: “She certainly wasn’t a beaten wife, she was hit and that’s different.”

Sandra Horley, the chief executive of the national domestic violence charity Refuge, said Waterman alone was responsible for his violent behaviour.

“I am appalled by Dennis Waterman’s comments about his violence toward Rula Lenska, which trivialise the abuse he inflicted on her.

“It doesn’t matter whether he hit her once, twice or a dozen times – no man is entitled to hit his wife and domestic violence is never acceptable. It is against the law.”

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