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Rachel Riley thanks supporters amid T-shirt racism row

Julia Hunt
Contributor
Rachel Riley unveils a new clockwork lion statue in Trafalgar Square, London (Grant Pollard/Invision/AP)

Rachel Riley has penned a defiant message showing she is standing firm after she came under fire for wearing a T-shirt that erased an anti-Apartheid message.

The 33-year-old shared a new message on Twitter to thank her followers for support.

She said: "Thanks for all the lovely messages of support, & all the silent supporters who've followed me, means a lot.

"Shows how counterproductive nasty pile-ons actually are.”

Referring to a tweet from October, she said: “I made this promise I intend to keep it.

“If this is the price to raise awareness then sobeit."

The October post read: "As we edge towards a December general election, a heartfelt promise: I will do everything in my power to try to ensure my baby, Jewish by blood, will not be born under an antisemitic government. I hope this will never happen, please use your vote wisely."

There were calls for the pregnant star to be fired from Countdown after she shared a photo of herself on Tuesday, 19 November, in a top featuring a doctored image of Jeremy Corbyn holding a sign saying: “Jeremy Corbyn is a racist endeavour.”

The original image actually showed the Labour leader being led away by police during an anti-Apartheid rally in 1984, with the sign reading: "Defend the right to demonstrate against Apartheid; join this picket."

Jeremy Corbyn holding a copy of the manifesto on stage at the launch of Labour's General Election manifesto, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Riley, who is Jewish, has been a critic of Labour's handling of anti-Semitism and has accused Mr Corbyn of failing to properly address the issue.

Read more: Rachel Riley criticised over T-shirt

Ahead of the TV debate between Mr Corbyn and Boris Johnson at MediaCity in Salford, she tweeted: "I didn't feel comfortable knowing my workplace was to be full of racists tonight. I don't endorse Boris, but I do endorse Never Corbyn."

The tweet and image sparked controversy, with some people accusing Riley of hypocrisy and saying it was offensive to remove the reference to Apartheid. Others said she should be axed from Countdown.

In another tweet, Riley “trying to brand me as racist for this, whist lauding themselves as anti-racist heroes, shows just how little regard many people have for anti-Jewish racism, and why I and many others speak so loudly”.

Riley is expecting her first child with husband Pasha Kovalev.