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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 09:46 GMT
Brother star in gorilla fur row
Pete Burns arrives at the Big brother house
Singer Pete Burns is known for his outrageous style
Celebrity Big Brother star Pete Burns could be jailed for wearing gorilla fur, a government minister has warned.

The former Dead Or Alive singer has claimed on air his fur coat is made from the endangered animals, angering some of his fellow housemates.

Biodiversity minister Jim Knight warned Burns could face "serious consequences" if his claims are true.

Burns, glamour model Jodie Marsh and Respect MP George Galloway face the first eviction on Friday.

Trading in endangered animal body parts carries a jail sentence of up to five years and an unlimited fine.

Owning a gorilla skin without a permit is also illegal.

I think it's low that you wear a monkey coat. It offends me every time I see it on your back
Housemate Jodie Marsh to Pete Burns

Mr Knight said: "Gorilla skins belong on gorillas, not on reality TV show contestants.

"Gorillas are critically endangered, and any promotion of gorilla products in this country can only put these amazing creatures in further peril.

"Any skin acquired after June 1947 would require an exemption permit, which would be highly unlikely to be granted.

"Equally, any gorilla skins or other products brought into this country require an import permit."

Burns' fur has led to arguments in the Big Brother house with Marsh.

The two initially clashed when Burns told Marsh he was offended by comments she made in her autobiography about an ex-boyfriend.


Marsh told the rock singer: "Well, I think it's low that you wear a monkey coat. It offends me every time I see it on your back."

Burns said he was "thrilled" that the coat offended her.

"I wish I had a sable coat and a chinchilla dressing gown and every other fur I could lay my hands on," he added.

Housemates were woken at 0800 GMT on Tuesday to hear the results of the first nominations.

Marsh said: "I expected it in a way but I'm still so shocked."

Burns did not comment and Galloway announced he was going back to bed.

Commons debate

Galloway is facing growing criticism from MPs and constituents for appearing on the Channel 4 reality show.

Residents in his Bethnal Green and Bow constituency have staged a protest outside his office in east London accusing him of abandoning his responsibilities.

On Thursday there will be a Commons debate on the 500m Crossrail transport link which will affect the constituency.

Other celebrities in the Big Brother house include entertainer Michael Barrymore, former Baywatch star Traci Bingham and actress Rula Lenska.

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