One of the Two Fat Ladies Clarissa Dickson Wright has been embroiled in a race row after describing a visit to Leicester “as one of the most frightening experiences of my life”.
Writing in her new book Clarissa's England: A Gamely Gallop Through the English Counties, the 65-year-old chef describes the city as a “ghetto” and said: “If multiculturalism works, which I have always been rather dubious of, surely it must be multicultural and not monocultural.”
The book is a catalogue of “a quintessential Englishwoman’s” personal thoughts on the food, culture and other merits of each of the English counties.
Of Leicester, she writes: "I can only hope that in generations to come there will be a merging of the cultures and not the exclusion zone that is the ghetto."
After coming off a ring road and finding herself lost “in an area where all the men were wearing Islamic clothing and all the women were wearing burkas and walking slightly behind them" she said none of the men would talk to her “because I was an English female and they don't talk to females they don't know”.
She writes: “Here I was, in the heart of a city in the middle of my own country, a complete outcast and pariah.”
When contacted by local newspaper Leicester Mercury, Dickson Wright said: "I'm surprised any of the people who might object could read what I wrote as it is written in English.”
The Edinburgh-based chef continued: “It scared me and I am not scared easy. I was in London when the July 7 [attacks] happened and this to me was proof for those people who have been saying we're getting ghettoisation of Muslim areas.”
She added: “I have never believed that political correctness was a reason not to say what I have experienced.”
In response to Dickson Wright’s book Ibraham Mogra, who is also assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “I find it very hurtful to read because everybody is working so hard to create a peaceful and happy Leicester."
"It showed a complete lack of appreciation of the fact we are almost two million in this country, doing our bit for our country,” he told Leicester Mercury.
Imam Mogra has called on “Leicester people to be even more welcoming and hospitable than we've been so far” in response to Dicksoon Wright’s assessment of her visit.
Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "That is the sort of thing that makes me very angry – when someone breezes in from outside and paints a picture of Leicester that does not have any foundation in reality. It may help sell books but it is cheap.”