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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Lisa McLoughlin

Stacey Dooley shuts down Giovanni Pernice question and denies friendship amid 'BBC investigation' into Strictly star

Stacey Dooley declined to address the recent claims involving Strictly Come Dancing's Giovanni Pernice during her appearance on BBC Breakfast.

It was reported last week that the Sicilian dancer had "quit" the BBC series after nine years and is being "investigated" by the BBC, amidst allegations purportedly made by two other celebrities in addition to Amanda Abbington. Pernice vehemently denies the allegations.

When asked by host Jon Kay about her opinion on recent reports, the former contestant chose not to comment but said she hoped the contestants who had come forward “are OK”.

Reports suggested that the Italian dancer has "resigned" from Strictly Come Dancing and is currently under investigation by the BBC.

Appearing on Monday’s show, host Jon Kay asked the documentary maker and former Strictly winner: “While you're here, before we get to the news, I have to talk to you about Strictly.

“Giovanni made a statement over the weekend saying he rejects any suggestion of any threatening or abusive behaviour, and you don't want to talk about that case and those allegations.

Dooley appeared on BBC Breakfast opposite Jon Kay and Sally Nugent (BBC)

“But I guess it shines a spotlight on the intensity of that Strictly world.”

To which she replied: “Yeah, what I would say is I don't have a friendship with Giovanni. I didn't even have a working relationship with Giovanni.”

“And I haven't been involved with that show for years. So it would be probably irresponsible for me to comment on that.

She continued: "What I would say, more broadly, is I hope all of the women involved are ok.

“And I think, actually, it's separate from this but in my personal experience, I think it's a slippery slope not to believe women when they come forward and say certain things. But I just hope they're ok.”

Kay’s co-presenter Sally Nugent then remarked: “It's a difficult time for the programme.”

In agreement, Dooley added: "Yeah, me and Kev [Clifton] are so boring. He's pals with a lot of the professionals but I don't know enough about that incident to comment.”

Giovanni Pernice (PA Archive)

The presenter won the 2018 installment of the BBC ballroom series with now-partner Kevin Clifton, while Pernice reached the final alongside then celebrity dance partner Ashley Roberts.

The remarks come after Pernice rejected allegations that he displayed “abusive or threatening behaviour” while working as a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing.

The statement from the 33-year-old Italian professional dancer comes amid reports that the BBC is looking into complaints about his conduct on the show.

A legal firm acting on behalf of the complainants said the broadcaster is “evidence gathering” but the BBC has not confirmed any probe has begun.

In the statement shared to Instagram on Sunday, Pernice wrote: “To my dear fans, you will be as surprised as I am that allegations have been made about my dance teaching methods in the media this week.

“Of course, I reject any suggestion of abusive or threatening behaviour, and I look forward to clearing my name.”

He continued: “Those who have followed my journey on Strictly Come Dancing over the last decade will know that I am passionate and competitive.

“No-one is more ambitious for my dance partners than me. I have always striven to help them be the very best dancers they can be.

“This has always come from a place of love and wanting to win – for me and my dance partners.”

Pernice signed off the message by writing: “Thank you all once again for your continued love and support! Giovanni.”

A statement from law firm Carter-Ruck to The Standard said last week: “There have been numerous serious complaints made to the BBC who are now in the process of evidence gathering.

“As it is still an ongoing matter no further comment can be made at this stage.”

A spokesperson for the BBC told the Standard regarding Pernice’s future on the series: “The Professional Dancers for Strictly Come Dancing 2024 will be announced in due course.”

The Standard has contacted Pernice's reps and a BBC spokesperson for comment regarding the internal investigation.

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