Syal daughter cleared of assaulting model at party

The teenage daughter of the television actress and writer Meera Syal was yesterday cleared of attacking a male model at a birthday party.

A jury took less than an hour to clear Chameli Bhatia, 19, of assault over the incident that left Christian Pannell needing 14 stitches to cuts to his face.

Ms Bhatia, who denied the charge, said that it had been an accident and her attempts to apologise afterwards were rebuffed.

Ms Bhatia had earlier told the court that she had been threatened by Mr Pannell's friends – who called themselves "The Team" – and she had been subjected to bullying via Facebook.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Ms Syal claimed Mr Pannell's father telephoned on the day after the incident in September last year and had threatened to "take her to the cleaners".

Two months later, the family received a letter from Mr Pannell's solicitors, stating that he wished to make a claim for damages. The court heard the letter asked if Miss Bhatia had a trust fund or any insurance.

In a statement after the case, Meera Syal, said that her daughter had "waited 14 months for her name to be cleared of this terrible charge. It has placed a huge and painful burden on her young shoulders. We always believed in her innocence and that this was an unfortunate accident and hope now that she can return to her studies and be allowed to continue her young life without any further intrusion."