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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Bookies fear rigged 'Stars' final
Gary Mullin
'Freddie Mercury' was crowned winner of last series
Bookmaker William Hill has slashed the odds on a Stars in their Eyes finalist winning after noticing unusual betting trends.

Odds on an impersonation of Bob Marley by David Davidson, 27, from Huddersfield, were cut after two women placed 50 bets in the Harrogate area of North Yorkshire.

The odds on Davidson winning Saturday's contest on ITV were cut from 6-1 to 2-1 as a precaution.

William Hill said about 5,000 was placed on Davidson at shops and via telephone and online betting, causing them to fear insider information had been leaked.

Bob Marley
David Davidson will be singing as Bob Marley
Spokesman Graham Sharpe said: "We are quite sensitive to bets we take on Stars in their Eyes as we've had some bad results in the past.

"Something like this happened last year when we took a lot of bets in shops in the same part of the world on the eventual winner."

"If we see what we believe to be a pattern in the betting then we reserve the right to cut the odds and only take modest stakes."

But Granada has denied suggestions that its live final could be rigged.

A spokeswoman said: "It would take an impossibly large syndicate to have any effect on the result and we are 100% confident that the system is fair and accurate.

Vote

"As regards inside information, only a very few people such as the producer would know how well people did in the heats.

"But even if you did know, it wouldn't be that useful as there's only about 100 people in the studio audience who vote in the heats."

The decision follows accusations that the Big Brother eviction process was rigged after the number to vote contestant Bubble out was posted on various websites.

Callers believed they were ringing for sports information and only learned the truth once the call was made.

Channel 4 denied this scam could have led to Bubble's eventual eviction.

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21 May 00 | Entertainment
A kind of magic for Stars winner
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