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Big Brother sponsors pull out over 'racism' row

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Big Brother sponsors pull out over 'racism' row

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Danielle Lloyd has been dumped from a lucrative modelling contract

Carphone Warehouse suspended its sponsorship of Celebrity Big Brother today as a result of the race row.

The company ordered Channel 4 to remove its name and branding from the programme with immediate effect.

The move came after last night's episode saw an escalation of alleged racist bullying directed at Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty.

Carphone Warehouse chief executive Charles Dunstone said in a statement: "Our concern has rapidly mounted about the broadcast behaviour of individuals within the Big Brother house.

"We are totally against all forms of racism and bullying and indeed this behaviour is entirely at odds with the brand values of The Carphone Warehouse.

"As a result, we feel that as long as this continues, we are unable to associate our brand with the programme.

"We had already made it clear to Channel 4 that were this to continue, we would have to consider our position.

"Nothing we saw last night gave us any comfort. Accordingly, we have instructed Channel 4 to remove our sponsorship name and branding with immediate effect."

The Perfume Shop said today it had decided to withdraw sales of Jade's perfume from its shelves following the Big Brother controversy.

A spokeswoman for stores said: "The Perfume Shop has decided to withdraw Jade Goody's perfume Shh... from all of its 150 UK stores with immediate effect.

"This decision will be reviewed once Ms Goody has left the Big Brother house and is in a position to respond to the media in person."

Former Celebrity Big Brother contestant John McCririck joined the debate, saying the trio had exposed their racist views.

He said: "Germaine Greer walked out of the Big Brother house two years ago after four days because she believed I was being bullied.

"Confrontation and conflict are what makes the programme compulsive viewing so when you put the Goody clan in they provide the expected mayhem.

"But the insidious way Danielle and Jo have unknowingly revealed their inner-racial prejudices demonstrate attitudes that millions of non-white British citizens have to endure daily.

"Both don't believe they're racist and will come out proclaiming they have numerous non-white friends and colleagues.

"What the programme is displaying with such clarity is the deep ingrained racial attitudes of millions of white Britons in all its hidden nastiness.

"Big Brother has shown the unpleasant reality of us as a nation."

Jade's mother, Jackiey Budden, waded into the row.

"Jade has never been racist, she is mixed race herself and suffered racist abuse as a youngster," she said.

"The only person I heard make a racist remark while in Celebrity Big Brother was Jermaine Jackson, who called me white trash."

Jackiey sparked the racism row when she repeatedly referred to Shilpa as "the Indian" and refused to pronounce her name properly.

She asked the Bollywood star: "Do you live in a house or a shack?"

Jade's management also continued to insist she is not racist.

Her spokeswoman said: "It is clear to all that Jade and Shilpa are rubbing each other up the wrong way, but what is going on is nothing more than a clash of personalities between two strong characters who have placed themselves in the unnatural and stressful environment of the Big Brother house.

"Jade will be mortified when she comes out to learn that her conduct is being interpreted as racist.

"Jade can be fairly accused of speaking her mind, but anyone who knows Jade knows that she is not a racist."

Shilpa appeared reluctant today to portray herself as the victim of racism.

Big Brother finally raised the issue and asked Shilpa in the Diary Room if she felt that yesterday's row with Jade was racially motivated.

Shilpa said: "No, actually I take that back. I don't think that is true. You know, people say things in a fit of anger. I stand corrected. I don't want people to think and feel that way...

"So even if I said it, I would like you to please clarify and put this as a statement from my side if you can: that I don't feel there was any racial discrimination happening from Jade's end.

"I think there are a lot of insecurities from her end but it's definitely not racial. So yeah, that's the way I feel."

Shilpa's agent Jazz Barton said she thought the comments were racist.

She told Sky News: "The events of last night maybe changed my views, when Shilpa herself said 'this is racism'.

"I do think it's borderline, to actually say to someone 'go back to the slums', you just don't say that.

She said Channel 4's comments and their questioning of Jade and Danielle had "come a little bit late".

She said: "Obviously they had to do something about it. There were more than 20,000 complaints.

"If they don't do something about it it's not going to look good for them."

She added of Danielle, Jo and Jade: "I think there's huge consequences for them. I don't think the public at large will respect them for what they have done."

Danielle Lloyd has been dumped from a lucrative modelling contractas a result of the row.

The former Miss England signed a 12-month deal at the end of last year to be the face of motorcycle insurance firm Bennetts.

The contract is believed to be worth six figures.

In a statement, the company said: "Following Channel 4's recent statement with regards to the alleged racism and bullying in the Big Brother house, Bennetts has reviewed its arrangements for Danielle Lloyd to front its 'Bennetts Babes' campaign.

"These arrangements were entered into prior to Miss Lloyd's entry into the Big Brother house.

"Bennetts is strongly opposed to any form of racism and bullying and, in light of the accusations which have been made against Miss Lloyd, has taken the decision to terminate its arrangements with her with immediate effect.

"Bennetts will no longer use Miss Lloyd for any promotional activities and will remove all promotional pictures and press materials featuring her from its website."

A spokesman declined to comment on how much the contract was worth.

Tory leader David Cameron today said Channel 4 bosses must consider the content of their programmes in light of the row.

During a trip to Edinburgh, he said: "I've said people have all got responsibilities to face up to.

"Channel 4, the broadcaster - they've got some responsibilities to think about what they're putting out on television.

"The regulator has got to consider a huge number of complaints, but we all as individuals have responsibilities.

"I've always said one of the best regulators is the off button and people can go and switch it."

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone called for all housemates who have made racist comments to be evicted from the house immediately and accused Channel 4 of damaging Britain's international standing.

He dismissed Andy Duncan's response to the controversy, saying: "Channel 4'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 4 should have insisted on this as a minimum requirement for continuing to broadcast it."

Mr Livingstone went on: "In order to defend their right to broadcast the treatment of Shilpa Shetty, Channel 4 has sought to deny that there is racism.

"This claim is irresponsible, self-serving and patently untrue.

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

"Channel 4 and Endemol by their behaviour are also damaging Britain abroad and in India in particular."

Former housemate Leo Sayer said both Shilpa and Jade were at fault.

"Shilpa and Jade would never have met in the real world. You are putting people from totally different cultures together and they are both to blame for what's happening," he said during an interview on UKTV Gold's Wogan Now And Then programme.

"I wish I could go back in the house and knock their heads together."

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell branded last night's Celebrity Big Brother show "disgusting".

"I think this is racism being presented as entertainment, and I think it is disgusting," she said.

"My personal view is that this has caused enormous offence not only abroad but to the Indian community here."

Ms Jowell said the row was a matter for Ofcom.

The media watchdog said tonight it has now received 33,000 complaints.

Bookmaker William Hill is refusing to take any more bets on Jade and said it would not pay out in the unlikely event that she wins the show.

Spokesman Rupert Adams said: "As far as we are concerned, Jade does not deserve to win and we will not be accepting any bets on her.

"If she wins we will be paying out on the contestant who comes second."

Meanwhile, Hertfordshire Police have launched an investigation into allegations of racism in the Celebrity Big Brother house, the force confirmed today.

A spokesman said: "A police investigation is continuing into allegations of racist behaviour in the Big Brother house in order to establish whether any criminal offences have been committed.

"We have received a high number of calls in respect of this and would ask that rather than ringing the emergency number, please email the following address: contactus@herts.pnn.police.uk."

Initially the police were passing complaints about the programme, which is filmed in Elstree, Herts, to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

A police spokeswoman said by last night they had received more than 40 phone calls complaining about racism aimed at Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty. She added there had been "significant numbers" again today but could not confirm an exact figure.

She said the added calls regarding Big Brother had placed the police call centre under pressure during a busy day for the force due to the high winds.

The force have also confirmed they are continuing to investigate threatening emails sent to some housemates via Channel 4.

Milena Buyum, of the National Assembly Against Racism, welcomed the police action: "The police should be investigating. This issue needs to be taken very seriously.

"Channel 4 need to start taking this seriously as well. Something has to be done to show that this type of behaviour will not, and must not, be tolerated in Britain by anyone whether in the Big Brother house or on our streets."

Channel 4 refused to comment.

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Copyright Press Association 2007

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