Mayor of London responds to Channel 4 statement about treatment of Shilpa Shetty in Big Brother house

Responding to the Channel Four statement about the treatment of Shilpa Shetty in the Big Brother house Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, said:

‘Channel Four’s statement today pretending that they cannot decide if there is racism in Celebrity Big Brother is absurd, and their failure to take any action to put a stop to the racism on this show is an evasion of the responsibilities of a broadcasting company.

‘The withdrawal of Carphone Warehouse sponsorship is welcome and their decision should stand until the present situation on the show is ended.

‘All those who have made racist comments about or towards Shilpa Shetty should be immediately evicted by Endemol. Channel Four should have insisted on this as a minimum requirement for continuing to broadcast it.

‘In order to defend their right to broadcast the treatment of Shilpa Shetty Channel Four has sought to deny that there is racism. This claim is irresponsible, self-serving and patently untrue. Ms Shetty has been subjected to sustained racism. Contestants have said: “You need elocution lessons. You need a day in the slums”; “she wants to be white”; “Do you live in a house or a shack?”; “is it India where they eat with their hands? Or is that China”; her accent has been mocked; it has been claimed that Indians were thin because they were always ill as a result of undercooking food; one contestant repeatedly referred to her as “the Indian” and refused to pronounce her name; she has been called a “dog”. Shilpa Shetty herself complained on the programme that the behaviour is racist.

‘The reality is that the racism in the Big Brother house has intensified over recent days.

‘Channel Four and Endemol by their behaviour are also damaging Britain abroad and in India in particular.

‘Ofcom as the broadcasting regulatory authority should now intervene to put an end to the broadcasting as entertainment the racist bullying and harassment on this programme.’

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Name: Ben McKnight