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Jo denies racism after eviction

Former pop singer Jo O'Meara denies being racist after her eviction from Celebrity Big Brother by the public.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2007 11:51 IST

Former pop singer Jo O'Meara has denied being racist after she and actress Cleo Rocos were evicted from Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother by the public, leaving Indian cine star Shilpa Shetty as one of the favourites to win.

Former S Club 7 singer Jo, who was involved in a reported race row which saw Jade Goody and her mother bullying Shilpa Shetty, received almost 48 per cent of the vote, while 28 per cent viewers wanted Rocos to go.

Now 31-year-old Shilpa Shetty, former A-Team actor Dirk Benedict and ex-Steps singer Ian "H" Watkins are up for eviction. Shilpa is now odds-on favourite to win when the show ends on Sunday.

Pop Star Jermaine Jackson, model Danielle Lloyd and Goody's boyfriend Jack Tweed are also still in the reality TV house.

In an interview with Big Brother presenter Davina McCall after she was evicted, Jo denied she was racist.

When showed footage of the moments that caused the international row, she said: "Looking at it, it looks absolutely terrible, but inside it didn't feel terrible."

But she told host McCall that the edited version of events distorted what really went on.

Of the comments she made about Shilpa while in the house, she said: "I never meant it in that way. I'm not a racist. I know that I'm not. I'm not going to deny that Shilpa did aggravate me a lot - you can't click with everybody, you meet.

"It's not because I'm racist. I think she's a very beautiful, very elegant woman."

Jo was shown mimicking Shetty's voice but she responded: "We were doing that with her and she was finding that really funny."

The singer admitted that while she was in the house she had felt that something was not quite right. On being shown the footage of the race row making headline news across the world, Jo exclaimed: "Oh my God".

She said: "It does look very bad" but insisted: "I'm not a racist person at all. My cousin is married to an Indian, and my cousins are half-Indians."

Asked by Davina about mocking Shilpa's cultural background, Jo said: "I didn't even know I was doing it."

She said she did not think that she had encouraged Jade in any way, adding: "I didn't mean to, if I did."

Jo said she did not dislike Shilpa, but she was not as close to her as other housemates Danielle and Cleo. She said she had not trusted her for a long time, and she had had her guard up.

And she told Davina she had laughed during the argument between Jade and Shilpa because she was "uncomfortable" and her reaction to nerves was to giggle.

The double eviction was a surprise twist for the housemates. The evicted pair emerged from the Big Brother house to a mixture of boos and cheers after the result of the public vote was announced.

The eviction comes after Big Brother bosses were forced to apologise when they had to scrap eviction votes following a technical fault.

Fans were offered refunds after the fiasco, which could have led to Shilpa being evicted by mistake. Words alongside her number wrongly stated viewers should ring it to save her, instead of boot her out.

First Published: Jan 27, 2007 08:56 IST