BIG Brother star Danielle Lloyd has been defended against allegations against racism and bullying.

Family and friends of the 23-year-old from Woodford have today issued a statement following public furore over alleged ill-treatment of fellow housemate Shilpa Shetty by Danielle and fellow housemates Jade Goody and Jo O'Meara.

This is Danielle's family and friends statement in full: "Obviously the media attention on events in the CBB house has escalated beyond everybody's imagination and the allegations being made against Danielle for alleged racism within the house are extremely distressing for her family and her friends.

"If Danielle were aware of even the smallest elements the reaction to how the events are being interpreted she would be absolutely distraught. We maintain that Danielle is not in any way racist and we do not believe that any comments she has made within the BB house are demeaning in a racially motivated manner.

"Clearly the behaviour in the house is unpleasant and harrowing to watch. We recognise a lack of cultural understanding and immaturity in the way Danielle is behaving in this very controlled environment.

"Danielle and her close circle of friends are of so many different races, cultures and ethnic groups that they are very comfortable with their cultural differences and comfortable discussing and even joking about these differences.

"The difference and problem seems to be in the lack of social and class understanding - in Danielle's case her circle of friends are all living and have in the main, been brought up in the UK in a hugely multi cultural society where these exchanges are not considered racially demeaning and Danielle is interacting with Shilpa on the same basis.

"In light of the media and public scrutiny of the comments which Danielle has made and the interpretation of them worldwide, her friends and her family believe it is necessary to address these individual comments as she is not here to speak for herself: "She's a dog' - This is not a racially motivated comment, it's an unpleasant word which is often used by young people today in a variety of different situations in contemporary english language.

"When Shilpa was bleaching her facial hair a discussion began amongst the girls about facial hair and bleaching and genuine inquisitive questions were asked of Shilpa.

"Shilpa was involved in this discussion and Danielle said in a throwaway manner She wants to be white'.

"This is much the same as when Danielle's friends tease her for her love of sunbathing and her mixed race friends joke with her.

Friend of Danielle's Leandra Anderson said: "If Danielle had been putting on fake tan for example, we may joke with her that she's 'trying to be black' but that wouldn't be seen as racist or offensive.

"Is it India they eat with their fingers or is that China?' - Danielle genuinely wanted to know the answer to this and the question was not racially motivated.

"I don't know where her hands have been' - this is not racially motivated, was said in an insulting manner but Danielle would have said this about anyone handling food with their fingers.

"F*** off home' - we maintain there was no racial undertone to this comment on Danielle's part, it was however aggressive in the situation but we believe the the argument and comments which preceded this were purely based on class and social differences between the housemates.

Danielle has had a very different upbringing to Shilpa whilst Shilpa is of Indian high society.

"F*** off home' is a term frequently used sometimes as an insult and sometimes in a jovial fashion between young people today.

Friend of Danielle's, Sarah said: "Those of us close to Danielle know well that she has very little time for people who believe they are automatically entitled to special treatment because of their status -be that due to society or celebrity.

"From watching events in the house we believe that Shilpa has been openly, but possibly unintentionally, reminding the other housemates of her elevated status and this may have antagonised Danielle".

Her family continued: "Comments have been made about Danielle mimicking Shilpa's accent - again this was not racially motivated, Danielle is well known for mimicking people's accents and she is frequently the object of others mimicking her liverpudlian accent - including in the BB house where they have all been enjoying each other's different accents.

"Danielle has been brought up in an environment where many close family friends are of varying races and cultural backgrounds - she would be devastated to know that through her naivety she has left her comments open to such drastic misinterpretation. Her relaxed attitude towards cultural and racial differences has left her wide open to criticism globally because she doesn't consider race to be an issue for her and not because race is an issue.

"As regards to allegations of bullying in the house Danielle has allowed herself to be swept along with the girls and situations and she has said things which she will certainly regret. However Danielle herself was bullied and she would be very remorseful to learn that she is being viewed as a perpetrator of this - "We believe however that her allegiance to the other girls has more to do with class differences between them all and Shilpa.

"Due to the enclosed and controlled environment of the Big Brother house, the perception of life within the house and events is being magnified and perhaps distorted and what is going on is certainly unpleasant behaviour at best, but is predominantly a class and social problem.

"Danielle will of course be responding herself to all media upon leaving the BB house. "