March 9, 2007 / 3:31 PM / 12 years ago

Police rule out charges in Big Brother race row

LONDON (Reuters) - No Big Brother contestants will face criminal charges over allegations they racially abused the Indian actress Shilpa Shetty on the reality TV show, police said on Friday.

Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, winner of British television show 'Celebrity Big Brother', smiles during a promotional event in Mumbai in a file photo from February 24, 2007. No Big Brother contestants will face criminal charges over allegations they racially abused the Indian actress Shilpa Shetty on the reality TV show, police said on Friday. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

Scenes of housemates insulting Shetty sparked an international row, with 40,000 complaints to the media watchdog Ofcom, protests in India and questions asked in parliament.

But prosecutors have concluded Shetty’s treatment was “offensive ... not criminal”, police said in a statement released after an investigation.

The row erupted in January when Shetty had a series of arguments with some of her fellow housemates: reality TV contestant Jade Goody and her partner Jack Tweed; singer Jo O’Meara and model Danielle Lloyd.

Housemates refused to learn Shetty’s name, referred to her as “the Indian” and “Poppadom”, and Lloyd said: “She should fuck off home. She can’t even speak English.”

Police said they interviewed four former housemates. Two others, who were not named, would not speak to them. Channel 4 and producer Endemol declined to hand over unedited footage.

“They declined to co-operate and stated they would contest any application to court,” Hertfordshire police said.

“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 CPS has concluded that whilst what occurred was clearly offensive, it was not criminal.”

After winning the show, Shetty sought to play down the racism claims.

“People make mistakes and we are all human beings and we are all fallible,” she said. “I know one thing for sure, Jade really didn’t mean to be racist.”

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