ITV has issued an apology after a rat was killed and cooked during I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and said it will tighten its procedures.

Charges are being brought against series winner Gino D’Acampo and fellow contestant Stuart Manning after the rat was apparently butchered to add to a meal.

ITV said it was an ‘oversight’ that the production team did not check whether the killing of a rat was lawful.

Gino, 33, has been worried that contestants in the ‘exile camp’ were struggling to cope on their rations and took matters into his hands.

Speaking in the show’s Bush Telegraph video diary room, he said: “It’s not done by choice but it’s done because we need it. We need some kind of protein, we need some kind of flavour. I saw one of these rats running around. I got a knife, I got its throat, I picked it up.”

The group, including 30-year-old Stuart, ate the rat.

An ITV spokesman said: “The production was asked if a rat could be caught and eaten by the celebrities in exile camp to supplement the basic rations they had been provided with for their evening meal.

“Having sought health and safety advice, the go-ahead was given purely on this basis, when it became clear that there would not be any harmful effects of eating a properly prepared and cooked rat.

“The production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence, criminal or otherwise, in New South Wales and accepts that further inquiries should have been made – this was an oversight.

“ITV apologises for this error, and to the celebrities concerned, and will put in place procedures for next year’s series to ensure that this cannot happen again.”