Page last updated at 00:54 GMT, Saturday, 28 November 2009

White House gatecrashers met President Barack Obama

The White House photo shows Mrs Salahi shaking hands with Mr Obama
The White House photo shows Mrs Salahi shaking hands with President Obama

A couple who gatecrashed a state dinner at the White House met President Barack Obama, his office has confirmed.

A photo released by the White House shows Virginia socialite Michaele Salahi shaking hands with Mr Obama.

The US Secret Service has admitted that proper procedures were not followed when Mrs Salahi and her husband were allowed into the event.

The organisation's director Mark Sullivan said it was "deeply concerned and embarrassed" at Tuesday's incident.

An investigation found the couple should not have been allowed in, despite going through screening.

The couple, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, apparently say they were entitled to be at the event.

Previously, another Secret Service spokesman Jim Mackin said charges could be brought against them.

The couple, who were not on the guest list, went through security checkpoints at the dinner hosted by President Barack Obama.

They later posted photos of themselves on Facebook.

'Failing is ours'

Mr Sullivan said an internal investigation determined that "established protocols were not followed at an initial checkpoint, verifying that two individuals were on the guest list".

Michaele and Tareq Salahi at the White House with Vice-President Joe Biden
The couple were photographed with several famous guests

"Although these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of screening, they should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely. That failing is ours."

A White House spokesman said the Secret Service has "the full confidence of the president of the United States."

The Washington Post earlier described the Salahis as "polo-playing socialites" with Ms Salahi said to be on the cast of the Real Housewives of Washington television programme.

The newspaper quoted a publicist for the couple as denying they had gatecrashed, saying that the pair "were honoured to be a part of such a prestigious event".

The state dinner honouring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first of the Obama presidency.

Mr Singh was received with more pomp and ceremony than any previous foreign visitor to Mr Obama's White House, with the lavish state dinner hosting more than 300 people.

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