Ex-MP boiled lizard on TV show
PRODUCERS of the British reality TV series I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here have landed in hot water with local RSPCA officials over the boiling alive of a native lizard.
The hapless lizard was allegedly doused with boiling water when it strayed on to the filming site in thick rainforest just north of Murwillumbah.
Producers ITV have been accused of trying to cover up the incident and not screening footage following controversy a year ago when they were taken to Murwillumbah Local Court on cruelty charges and fined after other stars killed and cooked a rat.
The controversy was dubbed Ratgate by the British media.
Filming of the latest series wound up last week but one of the stars, former British Liberal Democrat politician Lembit Opik, who lost his seat earlier this year and now hopes to be the party’s candidate for mayor of London, has revealed how the lizard died.
Mr Opik, 45, told the British Daily Star that during his time in camp the celebrities were boiling water over the fire when a lizard wandered on to the site.
As he tried to lift the bubbling brew off the flames he spilled the pot with the boiling water, dousing the lizard and killing it.
“The poor thing got instantly boiled and died,” Mr Opik said.
“Everyone felt really bad and we were all worried it would spark Ratgate all over again.
“It was an accident but not very nice. They never broadcast the incident on TV and I can guess why. It was to avoid another scandal.
“They got hammered last year by the RSPCA.”
Tweed district RSPCA inspector Alistair Hills said yesterday he was looking into the issue after being contacted by a Daily Star reporter and was waiting to hear back from the show’s producers.
He confirmed the welfare of lizards came under RSPCA jurisdiction.
But if the incident was shown to be an accident, and if the lizard had died instantly, he said he was not likely to pursue the matter.
“It is my understanding it was an accidental thing. If it was an accident there wouldn’t be any issues,” Mr Hills said.
“There would be no reason to take it further if it was accidental and it died instantly.
“If it was hit with hot water and didn’t die instantly that would be a different matter. They would have had to take some action.”
In 2009 ITV executives were taken to court and fined after then stars of the show caught, killed and cooked a rat.