Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Thursday, 3 July 2008 17:37 UK

Wrong winner book event defended

Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas initially announced the wrong winner before correctly naming Dannie Abse's The Presence Wales Book of the Year

The organisers of the Wales Book of the Year have defended the event after the wrong winner was announced during the award ceremony.

Author Tom Bullough said the event was "amateur" after Culture Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas mistakenly named him as the recipient of the 10,000 prize.

He also said it had been a "national embarrassment".

But Academi said the mistake was "human error" and the minister had apologised to him and winner Dannie Abse.

The literature promotion agency said the card from which the minister read included the names of the winner and the runners-up.

But the format clearly showed the winner in large bold type and had been used successfully on seven previous occasions, it said.

One was for the Welsh-language Book of the Year Award won by Gareth Miles, announced immediately before the Tom Bullough misreading.

Tom Bullough after the announcement
[It] was amateur, a national embarrassment, and I cannot be the only person to have thought so
Tom Bullough

"This was simple human error and one for which the minister immediately apologised," Academi said.

"The cards say in large bold type the name of the winner. Below this, in much smaller, regular type and preceded by the word 'Runners-up' are the names of the runners up," it said in its online newsletter.

"The name of the winner is preceded, in bold type, with the words 'The Winner'".

The minister was presenting the award for literature promotion agency Academi at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff, on Tuesday, when he announced Bullough's name.

The young novelist had almost reached the stage to collect the cheque amid the applause of the audience when it was announced that a mistake had been made, and that the actual winner was the veteran poet.

'Broken-hearted'

The culture minister immediately apologised for the mix-up, and Bullough returned to his seat while the award was then given to Abse for The Presence, which he wrote after his wife died in a car crash.

Bullough did not then return to the stage to collect his 1,000 runner's-up prize.

The author, who was nominated for The Claude Glass said he felt "broken-hearted" following the mistake, which "wouldn't have happened at the Oscars"

In a blog entry following the event entitled A Glimpse of Hell, he wrote: "I admire the ambition of the Academi, and they all seem very nice people, but if they are to fulfil that ambition they need to take their responsibility far, far more seriously.

"Their influence on people's lives is just too great. Frankly, last night was amateur, a national embarrassment, and I cannot be the only person to have thought so."

The Wales Book of the Year award is administered by Academi with the financial support of the Arts Council of Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh Books Council.


SEE ALSO
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