Actress Rula Lenska said there is never an excuse for hitting women, after her ex-husband Dennis Waterman described "lashing out" at her during an argument.

New Tricks star Waterman was accused of trivialising domestic violence after he described hitting his ex-wife, but said she was not "a beaten wife".

The actor, best known for playing Terry McCann in ITV's Minder, told Piers Morgan he was "very, very ashamed" of the attack.

He said: "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."

Lenska said there was never any justification for violence and anyone who used excuses should be held responsible.

"Whatever the adjectives - strong, powerful, intelligent - they can never be used as an excuse for violence towards women. Whoever uses them should be brought to account.

"If I have to apologise for being a strong, intelligent woman then what does that mean for any woman? It is utterly irresponsible," she told the Daily Mail.

During the interview for Morgan's Life Stories series, Waterman said he might have had too much to drink to remember everything that happened. He said: "I must have punched her one time because she did have a black eye."

But he added: "She certainly wasn't a beaten wife, she was hit and that's different."

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