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Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 08:41 GMT
Hoaxer bowls out chat show host

Robert and Rhiannon Weale Robert Weale celebrates becoming world champion with his daughter Rhiannon, six.


Radio chat show host Nicky Campbell has fallen victim to a hoax caller who pretended to be Wales's new world indoor bowls champion Robert Weale.

John Rabaiotti, 41, fooled the Scottish presenter - and most listeners to his Radio 5 Live show on Monday - into believing he was the Welshman who won Sunday's televised title.

The prankster boasted about how brilliant a sportsman he was, said he wanted more sexy groupies in bowls and claimed that the English are the world's most-hated race.

The real champion phoned the BBC station at GMT 1145 for a pre-arranged interview with the presenter only to be told that it had already been broadcast.

"I couldn't believe it," Mr Weale told reporters.


Nicky Campbell Well and truly kippered - Nicky Campbell
"I told them I hadn't spoken to Nicky and the line went very quiet for a couple of minutes. Eventually a voice said, 'I think we've made a mistake'."

Swansea-based Mr Rabaiotti, introduced as a British world champion, told the radio audience: "I won it for Wales. What you don't realise is that the English are the most-hated race in the world."

Mr Campbell said: "How refreshing to have a competitor who is so hungry, aggressive and confident."

When he found out that it was a hoax, the presenter said: "We were kippered - well and truly had."

Mr Weale, 36, who lives in Hereford, said: "I have nothing against the English and dissociate myself totally from any views expressed by the caller.

"I was quite shocked at first and seriously worried that people might think that it was me and that those were my views. But I have begun to appreciate the funny side."

Father-of-one Mr Weale, who picked up a 25,000 prize with the title in Great Yarmouth on Sunday, was expected to have his say on Tuesday when Campbell apologises for the mix-up.

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See also:
25 Jan 00 |  UK
Hoaxing: A national pastime

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