Northamptonshire police are investigating a stuffed fox after receiving a complaint about an episode of the Basil Brush Show in which he tells a joke about a gipsy fortune teller.
The fortune teller predicts that Basil is about to embark on a long journey. Too true, because, as Basil reveals, the man then stole my wallet and I had to walk home.
But Joseph Jones, the vice-chairman of the Southern England Romany, Gypsy and Irish Traveller Network, did not find the joke very funny and thinks that the BBC should withdraw the episode: To perpetuate this myth about gipsies and travellers
is wrong. If they are going to keep showing this then I look forward to them bringing back the likes of Alf Garnett to the screen.
In a national newspaper column, MP Anne Widdecombe said the move by police to investigate the allegation made a "nonsense" of race laws.
She said: The idiot complainants are the gypsies who have involved Northamptonshire Police, who have in turn approached the BBC. It is good news to know that there are no burglaries or assaults in that county because, otherwise, the police
would not have found the time to investigate this rot. I don't actually object very much if someone wants to point out to the BBC that this sort of portrayal is a bit of a silly stereotype, but that is a world away from treating it as a criminal
offence. The police should have told the complainants to go and get a life but instead, solemnly logged it as an offence of a racist nature.
Hate crime officers are currently investigating the complaint as "a racist incident". Insp John McKinney said: When a person feels offended and makes a complaint of this nature to our hate crimes unit we are duty bound to investigate
it appropriately with the appropriate level of resources.
The BBC has backed down over allegations of anti-gipsy racism in children's TV show Basil Brush .
Bosses admitted that an episode which caused offence was "inappropriate" and have told police it will not be shown again.
Officers have now decided no further action will be taken. Police have not yet told the BBC formally about the outcome of their inquiries but a source said: The episode was made six years ago. The BBC looked at it and took the view that it's
not terribly offensive but it's old enough that it probably wouldn't be made in the same way if done today.
The episode was repeated on the digital channel CBBC on February 21 this year and has been released on DVD.
It features Basil and his friend Mr Stephen, who succumbs to a gipsy spell that makes him attractive to women. Having just moved into a flat above Basil's, Dame Rosie Fortune – who casts the spell – offers him heather and pegs at his front door,
which he rejects.
She also offers to tell Basil his fortune and he replies: I went to a fortune teller once and he said I was going on a long journey. When Mr Stephen asks what happened, Basil replies: He stole my wallet and I had to walk all the way
A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: This complaint has now been concluded to the satisfaction of all parties involved.