Fijian beauty queen loses crown
A 16-year-old Fijian beauty queen has lost her crown after questions arose over whether she was "Fijian enough".
Schoolgirl Torika Watters, a kailoma or person of mixed European/Fijian heritage, was selected by the Miss World franchise last month, with a judging panel that included New Zealand model Rachel Hunter.
A runner-up, Koini Vakaloloma, will now represent Fiji at the Miss World contest in Mongolia later in the year.
"I would like to state that I have had no involvement in any of this underhand process and that I have been blind to this entire drama going on behind the scenes," Watters said in a statement.
"I had no knowledge of any pre-selection or pre-judging."
Watters says she did not do anything "sneaky or wrong".
She had been delighted to accept the title.
"I am proud of my identity as a Fijian and have never considered my people as racists."
She said pageant director Andhy Blake had told her she had lost the title because Julia Morley of the British-based Miss World organisation said 16-year-olds could not enter.
Watters said this had not been the case when she was asked to enter, and she was now pulling out.
"I was worried about the lies, the deception, the lack of transparency and the lack of professionalism," she says.
Blake told the Fiji Times today that the Miss World committee had been very happy with his work and "really that's a testament in itself".
But one of the judges, Hupfeld Hoerder, told Mai Life magazine said the result may have been pre-determined before the show.
"Torika is the innocent one here. Through all this she's been victimised," Hoerder said.
Watters had not been in the top three, but Blake wanted her "and that since he was the one who spent a lot of time with the girls, he knew who should be the one".
After Watters was named, the Miss Fiji Facebook site had to delete hundreds of comments, saying "violent or racist comments will not be tolerated".