Reality TV stars charged over rat eating episode

Mon Dec 7, 2009 1:49pm EST
 
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police have charged two stars of British reality TV show "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here" with animal cruelty after an RSPCA complaint over an episode that involved killing and cooking a rat.

Italian chef Gino D'Acampo and British actor Stuart Manning were charged at the weekend in relation to the British TV show that was filmed in northern New South Wales in Australia.

A police spokeswoman said sealed court attendance notices were delivered to the two men, aged 30 and 33, as they were about to leave Australia for England.

She said they were charged with animal cruelty for acts in connection to the program after complaints from the RSPCA, but did not give names or other details.

The two men are scheduled to appear in court on February 3.

"The killing of a rat for a performance is not acceptable. The concern is this was done purely for the cameras," David O'Shannessy of the New South Wales RSPCA told the BBC.

TV network ITV was not immediately available for comment.

"I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here", which is now in its ninth series, pits contestants against each other in a knock-out contest which involves a series of scary and stomach-churning tasks in a remote setting.

D'Acampo was the winner of the latest series.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, editing by Miral Fahmy)