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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 15:30 GMT
Big Brother's Shilpa thanks Blair
Shilpa Shetty at the Houses of Parliament
The Big Brother race row spilled into the world of politics
Big Brother's Shilpa Shetty has thanked Tony Blair for his support during a meeting at the Houses of Parliament.

The Bollywood actress watched prime minister's questions in the Commons before meeting Mr Blair afterwards and declaring: "He was very sweet."

She was invited by Labour MP Keith Vaz, who was among those who criticised the TV show after Ms Shetty's treatment by other contestants caused a race row.

She said she had thanked the PM for his support "to me and my country".

Her visit attracted widespread media attention - she was greeted on arrival at Parliament by a media scrum, including 23 reporters from India.

'An honour'

That arrival was broadcast live on television and the scale of media interest led to a planned press conference having to be moved from a room inside Parliament, to the steps of the MPs' office building, Portcullis House, just across the road in Westminster.

"To see how so much respect has been bestowed upon me has truly been an honour," she said.

He was very very kind and said he was very sad to see what I had had to go through in there
Shilpa Shetty on Tony Blair

The Commons chef prepared a special dessert in her honour "Shilpa's delight" and she met both Mr Blair and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell briefly after prime minister's questions.

On Mr Blair she said: "He was very very kind and said he was very sad to see what I had had to go through in there [the Big Brother house]."

She was also very fond of Ms Jowell, although she stressed to reporters that she was not "politically inclined".

The actress won Celebrity Big Brother, following clashes with housemates Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd who were accused of bullying and racism - something all three denied.

'Oppose racism'

Media regulator Ofcom received more than 40,000 complaints from viewers.

And the row reached both the House of Commons and India, where chancellor Gordon Brown found media coverage of his attempt to boost bilateral relations overshadowed by the programme's fall-out.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson
The PM wouldn't want to try his hand in another 'House', would he?
BBC political editor Nick Robinson

When Mr Blair was asked about the row in the Commons, he admitted he had not seen the programme, but added: "Of course, I would agree entirely with the principle that we should oppose racism in all its forms."

Ms Shetty has said she does not believe her fellow contestants were being racist, but that their remarks had stemmed from jealousy, or a "lack of education".

Asked how prime minister's questions compared to life in the Big Brother House, she replied: "They are way more polite in there and they get to leave and know what's going on in the world outside."


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Shilpa Shetty in the House of Commons



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