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{March 10, 2007}   Police all-clear over Big Brother race row

Shilpa ShettyNo-one will face any criminal charges over allegations of racist behaviour in the Celebrity Big Brother house, police have said.

Hertfordshire police have interviewed four housemates during what they called a “balanced” investigation, although two unnamed contestants in the Channel 4 reality TV series declined to talk to police.

The probe stemmed from a number of complaints to police and a record number to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom after Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty appeared to be subjected to racist abuse.

But police have said today that while what occurred in the house was “clearly offensive” it did not represent a criminal offence.

Assistant Chief Constable Simon Parr said: “Our investigation has now concluded and a file has been handed across to the crown prosecution service (CPS).

“In the absence of a complaint from any of the housemates regarding behaviour – including behaviour that was not broadcast – the CPS has concluded that whilst what occurred was clearly offensive, it was not criminal.”

Hertfordshire police said that it asked production company Endemol and broadcaster Channel 4 to supply them with unedited footage from the show, which was never broadcast.

Both declined to cooperate and “stated they would contest any application to court”, police said.

But after consultation with the CPS and after none of those interviewed said they had witnessed racial abuse in the house, the case was dropped.

“It was felt that it would not be in the public interest to effect arrests or to pursue footage through the courts,” a police statement said.

Detective Inspector Jeeta Aulak, who led the probe, added: “The investigation was balanced, considering all the complaints received.

“During enquiries, we liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) – this was to ensure that all issues were considered and responded to. The CRE were happy with our response and investigation.”

Thousands of viewers inundated Ofcom complaining at the treatment Shetty received from fellow housemates Jade Goody, Jo O’Meara and Danielle Lloyd during the January series.

Protests were seen in Shetty’s home country of India as the show continued and chancellor Gordon Brown was forced into commenting on the incident during a diplomatic trip to the country.

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