The actress Linda Henry who plays Shirley Carter on BBC soap Eastenders is facing trial charged with racially aggravated harassment. Henry, 51, denies hurling racial abuse at a someone during a row outside Jamie Oliver's restaurant in Greenwich, south London, in September.

Linda HenryLinda Henry [second from right] is a key member of the Carter family on Eastenders

Henry, who appears on what is officially the most ethnically diverse soap on television, said she was "horrified" by the allegations and is prepared to fight to clear her name.

"She is determined to prove she is innocent of these deeply offensive claims," a source close to Henry told The Sun. "Those close to her know the truth and the type of person she is. She has never been in trouble before."

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Henry, brought up in Peckham, south east London, is being heard under her married name Virilis and will stand trial on February 11 next year. The manager of Jamie's Italian in Greenwich insisted that none of his staff were involved in the alleged dispute.

Henry has recently been involved in some of Eastenders' biggest storylines and the Carter family is about to rocked by the news that Shirley is in fact Mick's (Danny Dyer) mother. She had vanished after shooting Phil Mitchell on his wedding day but was later found holed up in an old family caravan.

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As well as Eastenders, Henry has appeared in crime drama The Bill, Touching Evil, Cracker, A Touch of Frost and Trial & Retribution, as well as comedy series Birds of a Feather.

The BBC is yet to comment on whether Henry will be suspended from the show.

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