Bill Murray has defended Dustin Hoffman after his 'Tootsie' co-star was accused of sexual harassment.

Bill Murray

Bill Murray

The 68-year-old actor insisted his pal - who has previously apologised in response to the allegation against him - has always been a "flirt" but he is still a "great" man.

Speaking during a panel talk with agent Michael Ovitz at the 92nd Street Y in New York, he said: "Dustin Hoffman is a great man. He's crazy, a Borscht Belt flirt, has been his whole life. [But] he's a really sweet man."

The 82-year-old actor was accused by Anna Graham Hunter, who worked as an intern on his movie 'Death of a Salesman' in 1985, of sexually harassing her on the set 32 years ago.

Anna alleged Dustin "grabbed" her ass on the set and asked her to give him a foot massage, and he later apologised for making her feel "uncomfortable", admitting the accusations had made him "feel terrible".

He said in a statement: "I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am."

Anna made her allegations in a piece for the Hollywood Reporter detailing her experiences from the set, which was taken from copies of notes she wrote to her sister at the time.

She wrote in her introduction: "When I was a senior in high school in New York City, interning as a production assistant on the set of the 'Death of a Salesman' TV film, he asked me to give him a foot massage my first day on set; I did.

"He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me."

In the piece, Anna branded Dustin a "lech" in her notes written after just 10 days on set.

She wrote: "Today, I realised some things about this business that scare me. First of all, Dustin's a lech. I'm completely disillusioned. After 'Tootsie', I thought I wanted to marry him...

"Today, when I was walking Dustin to his limo, he felt my ass four times. I hit him each time, hard, and told him he was a dirty old man. He took off his hat and pointed to his head (shaved for the part) and said, 'No, I'm a dirty young man, I have a full head of hair.' "