THE Commission for Racial Equality yesterday distanced itself from one of its officials who criticised a TV commercial featuring orang-utans.
Peter Oteng, a Birmingham-based commission official, was widely quoted in newspapers and on radio as saying the commercial - two animated plasticine apes advertising electrical products - could damage racial harmony and offend black viewers.
The commission issued a statement from its London office saying: 'Remarks in several national newspapers and radio bulletins attributed to a Birmingham official of the Commission for Racial Equality do not reflect the views of the commission.'
Mr Oteng said he believed many viewers would look upon the apes as representing black people. The 'creature comforts' series has won 50 awards, more than any other campaign on television.
Andrew Hawkins, of GGK, the advertising agency responsible, said: 'The commercial is not racist and never has been. We were shocked at the allegation and found the allegations absurd and completely incomprehensible.'
The commercial features two orang-utans peeling bananas and chatting about the advantages of having an electric tumble drier.