AN EMOTIONAL Helen Flanagan wiped away tears on TV this morning as she apologised for posting a picture online of herself holding a gun against her head just days after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The actress and I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! star called the decision to post the picture on Twitter "the stupidest thing I have ever done in my life" and apologised to any of the victims' families who may have taken offence.
The image, taken in a fashion shoot in October and shared by Flanagan on Monday, appeared in the media and prompted a wave of online criticism.
Flanagan looked visibly emotional when she appeared on ITV’s Daybreak sofa, wiping away a tear as she attempted to answer the first question and saying: "Sorry, I am so upset."
She said she posted the photo without thinking and deleted it once she realised the significance of what she had done.
She said: "I absolutely hated myself for it. I am incredibly sorry. I just could not be more sorry... my heart bleeds for the families.
"None of my friends are the public eye. I sometimes forget that I am in the public eye... I have to be more careful as a role model."
Flanagan initially accused The Sun of "bullying" on Twitter when it ran the picture with the headline: "As 26 lie dead after US school horror, Corrie's Helen Flanagan poses with a gun to her head... BRAINLESS".
The actress told Daybreak she still believed The Sun's decision to put the picture on its front page had been unfair.
She said: "I did think for it to be on the cover of The Sun like that was unfair because it was a completely careless second... I would never, ever want to hurt anyone."
The Sun said in a statement read out on the show that, while Flanagan was one of its favourites, anyone who courts fame must use their celebrity responsibly.
The paper said: "Tweeting this picture on the day that the first victims of a shooting are being buried was a major error of judgment and it is right that Helen is held accountable."
Flanagan said she took responsibility for her actions and pledged to "learn the lessons from this".