Saturday, 17 November 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
TV star would return to "frightening" city
Clarissa Dickson Wright has refused to apologise for "hurtful" comments about the city's Muslim community – but says she would return to the city.
In her new book, the celebrity cook described a visit to Leicester "as one of the most frightening experiences of my life".
The 65-year-old wrote that she came off the ring road to escape a traffic jam and found herself lost in a part of the city she described as a "ghetto" where she felt like a "complete outcast and pariah".
Ms Dickson Wright was invited to defend her views by BBC Radio Leicester yesterday and said: "I'm not going to apologise. I'm not saying it's entirely accurate for the whole of Leicester, but I am describing an experience that I went through.
"I know other people who have had a similar experience, not necessarily in Leicester."
In her book, Clarissa's England: A Gamely Gallop Through the English Counties, the cook dedicated a chapter to Leicestershire's culinary and cultural merits.
"I found myself in an area where all the men were wearing Islamic clothing and all the women were wearing burkas and walking slightly behind them," she wrote.
She said none of the men would talk to her when she tried to find out where she was and how to get out of there, because she was an English women and they "would not talk to women they did not know".
"Here I was, in the heart of a city in the middle of my own country, a complete outcast and pariah," she wrote.
Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, described her comments as hurtful.
Speaking on BBC Radio Leicester, he invited Ms Dickson Wright to come back to the city and have dinner with his family.
"I would be delighted to host her at my home and take her to meet real Leicester people," he said.
Deputy city mayor Rory Palmer also invited her to return – and apologise for her comments.
He said: "I read the comments she made in her book in the Mercury and I was lost for words – and I am rarely lost for words.
"They are unwarranted and not the Leicester I know.
"Perhaps she ought to stick to what she knows – making pies and souffles.
"I think, given the reaction to her comments, that she ought to be prepared to make an apology.
"I'm not going to be rushing off to write her a letter of invitation, but if the opportunity presents itself in the future, I am sure we will all show her the real city."
Speaking on the radio, Ms Dickson Wright said: "They want me to come back? Yeah, of course I would accept."

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