Police rule out action over 'Big Brother' race row

(AFP)
Updated: 2007-03-10 09:30

LONDON - Police said Friday that no arrests would be made after they received complaints of racism towards Indian film star Shilpa Shetty on a television reality show.

Prosecutors ruled that Bollywood actress Shetty's treatment on Channel 4 television's "Celebrity Big Brother" show was "clearly offensive" but "not criminal".

The "Big Brother" format involves locking people in a purpose-built house for weeks on end and tracking their every move on camera 24 hours a day. Viewers then vote off contestants one by one.

The row in January threatened to damage Anglo-Indian relations when Shetty was rounded on in the Big Brother house by a former Miss Great Britain, an ex-pop star and a former contestant on the non-celebrity version of the show.

Police said in a statement: "Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, it was felt that it would not be in the public interest to effect arrests or to pursue footage through the courts."

The race watchdog, the Commission for Racial Equality, was consulted and was satisfied with the decision, the statement added.

No complaint to police was made by any of the contestants, the force said.

Detectives wanted to speak to six of the former housemates, but two declined, although they did not say which.

"During the interviews, everybody stated that they had not witnessed or perceived they were victim to any racist behaviour," the statement said.

Programme makers Endemol had refused to supply unedited footage from the show and said they would contest any application in the courts, police added.

Media watchdog Ofcom received more than 40,000 complaints about Shetty's treatment at the hands of her fellow contestants.

The row also sparked demonstrations in India in which effigies of Channel 4 producers were burned in the street. The show's main sponsor withdrew as the row dominated the headlines at home and abroad for weeks.

Shetty, who was eventually voted winner, forgave her tormentors but the other women have been largely shunned since.



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