Janet Street-Porter is accused of racially abusing neighbour

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The broadcaster and newspaper columnist Janet Street-Porter has been arrested over an allegation that she racially abused a neighbour.

Ms Street-Porter was questioned at a north London police station on Tuesday night in relation to the alleged offence under the Public Order Act.

In a statement yesterday, she denied any wrongdoing saying that she expects to be "fully vindicated in due course".

Ms Street-Porter, 59, who was head of youth and entertainment programmes at the BBC in the 1980s before becoming editor of The Independent on Sunday, added that she had a reputation for standing up to racism. After her arrest she was released on police bail pending further inquiries.

Her friends were quick to defend her against any allegations of racism. Gary Farrow, one of Britain's best-known entertainment PRs who represents, among others, Ms Street-Porter's close friends Sir Elton John and David Furnish, said: "I've known Janet for 25 years and she is the least racist person I know. She's done more for television and promoting multi-cultural formats than anyone I know. Her television shows were cutting edge."

Another friend laughed when he heard the allegations, and said: "This is just ridiculous. For goodness sake, she went out with Normski for six years."

Her law firm, the media and entertainment specialists Harbottle & Lewis, said: "Janet Street-Porter was interviewed by police yesterday in respect of an allegation made against her under the Public Order Act. She has completely denied the allegation and expects to be fully vindicated in due course."

They added: "It will be appreciated that Janet cannot say any more at this stage."

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "On 16 January, a 59-year-old woman attended a north London police station by appointment and was arrested in connection with an alleged racially-aggravated public order offence. She was later bailed to a date in February pending inquiries."

Ms Street-Porter is vice-president of the Ramblers' Association and is a fellow of the Royal Television Society. She lives in Clerkenwell and has had long career in journalism and television but began studying architecture at the Architectural Association between 1965-67. She later switched to journalism, securing her first job in Fleet Street at the age of 21.

In 1973 she presented a daily show on Britain's first commercial radio station, LBC, and switched to television in 1975, to host The London Weekend Show, a young people's current affairs programme for LWT. She presented a range of primetime shows for LWT including her own talk show, became a producer in 1981, and gained a Bafta nomination with Twentieth Century Box. She worked with graphic designers and avant garde musicians on Paintbox for Channel 4 - and won the Bafta award for originality for Network 7 in 1998.

At the BBC, she created many new show formats for young people - including Rough Guide to Careers, The A to Z of Belief and Reportage. She also produced The Full Wax with Ruby Wax. Her reworking of the German romantic opera The Vampyr won the Prix Italia in 1992. In 1994, she joined the Mirror Group and set up L!ve TV, creating the UK's first digital television studios.

In 2004 she gained many new fans when she appeared on the ITV reality show I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.