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Chef slams press coverage of thefts


Antony Worrall Thompson at Malahide Rugy Club North CoDublin

Antony Worrall Thompson at Malahide Rugy Club North CoDublin

Antony Worrall Thompson at Malahide Rugy Club North CoDublin

Celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson said he would rather have gone to prison than endure the public fall-out following his arrest for shoplifting.

The Ready Steady Cook star said he felt he had been put in the "modern day stocks" by some elements of the Press, but that he had been overwhelmed by messages of support from thousands of well wishers.

The former I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! contestant was cautioned by police after he was caught stealing from the Tesco store in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, while using a self-scanning till last Friday.

The 60-year-old gave his first TV interview since the incident on Irish television while on a visit to Dublin.

"I'm in a bad place obviously," he told state broadcaster RTE's Saturday Night Show. "I'm very embarrassed, very ashamed, I put my hands up to it, I did it, which is inexplicable."

He added: "It's something that I've got to get to the bottom of and I'm having counselling because it's completely against the run of play, if you want. I reckon I'm usually a pretty good guy, I do a lot for charity, a lot of helping other people and I don't know what on earth made me do that, it's just extraordinary."

Mr Worrall Thompson said thousands of people had logged on to his website to give their support. He contrasted that to his treatment by some sections of the media. "What I've suffered this week is worse than doing a prison sentence," he claimed.

"I would rather have been fined or gone to prison because the Press have been extraordinary. It's just been beyond any relationship to the crime. I mean I wasn't charged, I was given a rap on the knuckles. I did a crime, I appreciate that it, very very stupid and I am very very embarrassed."

But he insisted that he did not think his actions warranted front page coverage. "I am prepared to take the flak, I deserve the flak, but I'm not sure I deserve what's hit me this week. It's been like being in the stocks, the modern day stocks with people throwing things - the stones will come maybe but at the moment it's just squishy tomatoes really."

Earlier in the evening, Mr Worrall Thompson was at a fund raising event in nearby Malahide. He supported a benefit evening for Scott Flanagan and Ger Owens, two Irish sailors who are attempting to raise enough funds to compete in the 470 class sailing event at the London 2012 Olympics.