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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Steps upset by 'racist' claims
The band were criticised after a newspaper article
Pop stars Steps have expressed their horror at suggestions by an anti-fascist group that they may be racist.

The accusations were made by the Anti-Fascist Action organisation in a response to a newspaper article last month.

The piece in the Sunday Express on 25 June asked for Steps' views on a variety of political subjects.

It quoted Lee Latchford Evans saying: "I think there should be more jobs for English people" and fellow-band member Claire Richards asking: "Why are we paying for all these people to come into the country anyway?" - in an apparent reference to asylum-seekers.

Steps members with Prince Charles
All smiles: Steps with Prince Charles at the 1999 Party in the Park

But the group insisted their comments had been taken out of context and they condemned all forms of racism.

An official statement, released through their record company Jive, read: "Steps, both as a group and as individuals, are horrified at the implication by the AFA that they are racist.

"They deplore all forms of discrimination - racist, sexist or homophobic.

"The comments made in the Sunday Express were not intended to appear racist and Steps unreservedly apologise for any misunderstanding."

Political innocents

An earlier statement from the AFA said: "If the band are political innocents who have made the mistake of opening their mouths without thinking of the consequences, then we ask them to withdraw their comments.

"However, if this is a more studied political analysis we warn them that they will be likely to attract the attention of anti-fascists."

A spokesperson for Steps reinforced the group's position.

He told the New Musical Express newspaper: "I've known Steps for three years and I can say for sure that they are not in any way racist. Whether or not they were caught out by clever questioning, I don't know."

He stressed that Latchford Evans' comments pertained to British people of any ethnic origin.

The article also mentioned Lisa Scott-Lee's support for the return of capital punishment, which the Steps spokesman said was a personal view which "may not have been really well thought out".

Steps have already played to more than 500,000 people this year, including gigs at the Party in the Park and Mardi Gras festivals.

Their last single, When I Said Goodbye/ Summer Of Love is still in the UK top 20, while their album Spectacular, which has already sold more than a million copies, is in the top 30 of the album chart.

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16 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Steps raise fans' spirits
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