'Apprentice' star Alan Sugar's 'racist' tweet about Chinese baby sparks police probe

Woman offended by Alan Sugar's reference to mainland child working in an iPhone factory

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 October, 2013, 8:33am

A celebrity British entrepreneur and former government business adviser was accused of racism and investigated by the police after he tweeted a "joke" about a Chinese child being upset in an iPhone factory.

The Labour Party peer Alan Sugar - the outspoken "you're fired" star of the TV hit The Apprentice - posted a comment about recent photos of Chinese babies dressed in watermelon skins.

He wrote: "The kid in the middle is upset because he was told off for leaving the production line of the iPhone 5" - a reference to the factories in China where the phones are made.

But his tweet, posted last week, prompted a complaint to the Metropolitan Police from fellow Twitter user Nichola Szeto.

Angered, she reacted to Sugar's tweet, posting: "Everyone have a look at @Lord_Sugar racist tweets. My family are chinese you horrible t[***]. I thought Racism was illegal."

The Liverpool health shop owner, whose husband and family are Chinese, then complained to the Metropolitan Police Twitter account. She was contacted by police but initially declined to give a statement.

At 8am the next day, she was again contacted by officers who said they wanted to visit her home. Instead, she agreed to go to a police station in central Liverpool where she gave a statement.

Szeto said: "I told the police I just wanted to let him know it was wrong. They said they take this very seriously, but I said, 'just leave it, I've complained now.' But they phoned back so I went to see them."

Police analysed the tweet and came to the conclusion that because it was considered a "hate incident", no further action would be taken.

Szeto was accused by some of wasting police time.

But she defended her actions in an extended tweet over the weekend directed at Lord Sugar: "I am of mixed English/Chinese heritage & my partner & children are Chinese. What you wrote did offend me. I am not sorry for voicing my opinion because you would have done exactly the same if you were me.

"Did I over react? Yes I probably did."