Catherine Zeta-Jones insists sexual harassment claims her husband Michael Douglas pre-emptively denied last week were ''erroneous and false''.

The 48-year-old actress - who has been married to the Hollywood star for nearly 18 years - has hit out at the allegations he had behaved inappropriately towards a female employee over 30 years ago, including touching himself in front of her, saying it was ''very, very upsetting''.

She said: ''It was very, very upsetting. Anything like that, that is erroneous and false, would take anyone by surprise.''

Catherine - who has children Dylan, 17, and 14-year-old Carys with Michael - also blasted the claims as a ''non-story'' and is ''glad'' he released a statement to deny them before they were made in public.

She is quoted by the Daily Mirror newspaper as saying: ''I'm glad that the non-story was put straight. It was a looming accusation and I am very happy that Michael did a pre-emptive move.

''This was something that supposedly happened 30-odd years ago and was unfounded, so Michael needed to make that stance.''

The 73-year-old actor last week pre-emptively denied a potential claim that he harassed a former employee 32 years ago, admitting he ''felt the need to get ahead of'' the ''cautionary tale'' by speaking out.

Michael revealed the woman was alleging he once touched himself in front of her, ''spoke raunchily'' with pals, ''blackballed her'' and used bad language.

While he said sorry for using bad language in front of the employee, the 'Wall Street' star insisted he did not blackball her and said it is a ''complete lie'' that he touched himself in front of her.

He said: ''I don't know where to begin. This is a complete lie, fabrication, no truth to it whatsoever.''

Michael - who was approached by The Hollywood Reporter, who provided the woman's claims to him - also admitted he has found the allegations ''extremely painful'' to deal with, particularly because his children are ''really upset'' and ''scared'' about the claims.