A star of the Harry Potter film franchise from Dereham has weighed in on the row sparked by JK Rowling's comments on transgender issues.

Chris Rankin, who moved to Norfolk when he was six years old, said his work for LGBTQ+ charities spoke volumes about his stance on the controversy.

Rowling, author of the multi-million Potter book series, drew criticism in June 2020 for tweets in which she questioned the phrase "people who menstruate" in an online article - apparently taking issue that the word "women" was not used.

She later said her interest in trans issues stemmed from being a survivor of abuse.

But Potter stars including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have since condemned the 56-year-old's remarks.

And Mr Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in six of the eight movies, said: "I do a lot of work with charities that are LGBTQ+-focused and I raise money for the Albert Kennedy Trust on a regular basis.

"A lot of my family are members of the community. It is a huge part of my life and I think, by saying that, you can probably guess where my allegiances lie in that respect."

He added: "What is important to highlight is that, when a trans person says they are male or female, that is what they are and that is how we should treat them.

"It is damaging to them to say otherwise.

"They are a very small minority who have an awful lot to deal with, and the best thing we can do is support them like we would - or should - any other human being on the planet."

Mr Rankin, who attended local schools including Thomas Bullock Primary and Northgate High School, was speaking as the 20th anniversary of the first Potter film - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - was celebrated.

He said the wizarding world of Harry Potter and its school, Hogwarts, had long been a "safe space" for those in need.

"There is this saying that Hogwarts is a place for anybody who needs it, and it has been that for so many," he added.

"I have had countless people tell me that Harry Potter is where they felt able to be themselves.

"Across the board it has been a safe space, and I really hope it can continue to be because they need that."