Hairdresser to the stars apologises for racist rant at Baftas

As the champagne glasses clinked and the cameras flashed, an outburst of racial abuse scythed through the party atmosphere at the Baftas in the most sudden and shocking manner.

Yesterday, celebrity hairdresser James Brown admitted he was the man who used the "N-word" eight times in just a few moments during an exchange with the television presenter and theatre academy founder Ben Douglas.

Mr Douglas revealed what had happened at the awards ceremony on 22 May in a newspaper article on Sunday, but he decided not to name his abuser because he did not want to "destroy his career", describing him only as "a leading figure from the fashion world who numbers Kate Moss and Lily Allen among his closest friends".

But as speculation mounted about the abuser's identity, Mr Brown decided it was best to declare he was the guilty party through a statement released by his publicist.

"I'd like to make a public apology to Mr Douglas, to his friends and to Bafta for my offensive and stupid comments," said Mr Brown, who as well as styling the likes of Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham is a celebrity in his own right thanks to a reality TV show.

"The simple truth is that I had drunk far too much on the evening and my behaviour was totally unacceptable. Everyone who knows me knows I am not racist in any way whatsoever, but this incident has shown me that my drinking is way out of control and I need to take urgent measures to deal with it."

He concluded: "I have been in touch with Mr Douglas and will be writing to him and to the Bafta organisers to apologise personally. I am very sorry and very embarrassed."

But while Mr Brown immediately faced the wrath of the public on social networking sites, Mr Douglas received a death threat in an email.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "Police received an allegation of racially motivated malicious communication from a 34-year-old man on the morning of Monday, 30 May. Officers from a south London borough spoke to the alleged victim and inquiries continue."

According to Mr Douglas's account in the Mail on Sunday, the exchange began when his female friend was asked by Mr Brown if she was with him. On being told she was, he reportedly said: "You're a nigger's bitch, that's what you are."

Mr Douglas said Mr Brown had then attempted to claim that he was merely using street slang he had picked up in New York, saying: "Nigger's not offensive. Nothing wrong with nigger. I know loads of niggers."

Mr Douglas added: "My motivation isn't that I want to ruin someone's career or to do a 'kiss and tell', but I feel it is an opportunity to raise awareness and to put a focus on the use of that word. I have seen the use of that word creeping into slang. Why did this individual feel that they were able to use that word to insult me and the person I was with?"

The controversy comes three months after fashion designer John Galliano was sacked by Dior and widely condemned after being recorded making anti-Semitic remarks to a group of women in a bar.

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