Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Friday, 16 October 2009 13:11 UK

BBC defend Blue Peter competition

Blue Peter logo
17,000 children entered the Blue Peter competition to design a coin.

The BBC has denied newspaper reports of wrong-doing in a Blue Peter competition to design a 50 pence piece for the 2012 London Olympics.

It has emerged that Andrew Jackson, the father of the winner, is due to become head of the BBC's Natural History Unit.

A BBC statement said: "We strongly refute any allegations of wrong-doing."

The judges had no indication of who the entrants were and the competition was closed before Jackson entered talks with the BBC, it added.

'Without foundation'

About 17,000 children entered the competition to become the first child to design a UK coin earlier this year.

The winning high-jump motif is part of a series of 29 different designs for the 50 pence piece to commemorate the London Olympics.

Newspaper reports suggested unfairness after it emerged the winner's father had links to the BBC.

The winning design
The Blue Peter competition winning design.

Mr Jackson has worked for the BBC in the past and is due to become the head of the Natural History Unit at the end of October.

The BBC denied any rules had been broken, saying Jackson had not worked for the BBC for a number of years. The competition closed in March, before he had talks about the new job.

In a statement the BBC said: "Any suggestion that anyone at the BBC could have had undue influence on the selection of the winning entry is totally wrong and without any foundation whatsoever.

"The judging panel who short listed the finalists was not given any indication of the name, sex or age of any of the entrants. Their decision was based purely on the design of the coin."

The BBC were fined £50,000 in 2007 after the results of a Blue Peter competition were faked. In the same year, it was revealed the results of a vote to name the show's pet cat had been altered.

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