25 November 1999
Alliance accused of rigging our poll
by FWi staff
THE Countryside Alliance has been accused of trying to rig the Farmers Weekly Farm Personality of the Year Competition.
The competition, which was launched earlier this month, aims to discover who Farmers Weekly readers think has done most for farming in 1999.
Magazine readers were asked to choose their personality of the year from of a list 11 candidates which included many prominent farming figures.
Hundreds of votes were received for candidates such as NFU president Ben Gill and farmers leader Richard Haddock before voting closed this week.
But the Countryside Alliance unfairly tried to rig the competition so its chairman, Baroness Mallalieu, would be declared the winner, it has been claimed.
The League Against Cruel Sports accused the pro-hunting alliance of e-mailing thousands of supporters asking them to vote for the Baroness.
The e-mail, sent out on 19 November to 4000 alliance supporters, urged recipients to take immediate action. “We are voting for Ann Mallalieu,” it added.
A spokesman for the League Against Cruel Sports said: “It is appalling that the Alliance is trying to rig the poll in this way. You could hardly call it fair.”
But the Alliance denied the charge, saying the e-mail was sent by its grassroots members and did not come from the organisations headquarters in London.
“I cant see any problem with that,” said an Alliance press officer. “Our members expect us on their behalf to look after their interest.”
Jonathon Riley, news editor of Farmers Weekly, said all the votes received by the magazine had been carefully scrutinised to eliminate cheating.
“Any duplicates have been weeded out, but we are counting all single votes from individuals,” he added.
Earlier this year, two separate polls on foxhunting by ITV and The Mirror hit the headlines after pro-hunting supporters tried to rig the ballots.