Britain's ITV fined over killing a rat on TV show

Mon Feb 8, 2010 11:07am EST
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SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) - British broadcaster ITV pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and was fined by an Australian court Monday after a rat was killed and eaten on the reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here."

Italian chef Gino D'Acampo and British actor Stuart Manning were originally charged with animal cruelty last December after an RSPCA complaint over an episode filmed in Australia that involved killing and cooking a rat.

But Sky News reported Monday that ITV admitted its production staff had given the go-ahead to a request to kill the rat and the broadcaster pleaded guilty to the charge.

The court was told that the rat took a minute-and-a-half to die after being stabbed with a knife which the magistrate said caused unnecessary pain to the animal.

ITV was fined A$3,000 ($2,600) and ordered to pay A$2,500 in costs.

RSPCA Chief Inspector David O'Shannessy said all animals are protected under the Cruelty to Animals Act in the state of New South Wales.

"An animal was inflicted with unnecessary pain and distress. Had the circumstances been different and the rat killed outright we wouldn't be talking about it here today," he told Sky News.

A spokesman for ITV said the broadcaster had apologized

for the mistake which led to the incident.   Continued...