Judges Resign From Evening Standard Awards Panel After Mirren Win

Judges Resign From Evening Standard Awards Panel After Mirren Win

Three judges at the Evening Standard Awards have resigned after Dame Helen Mirren won the prize for Best Actress for her performance in The Audience - even though the majority of the panel did not vote for her.

Two members of the panel who work for the Evening Standard, the sponsor of the awards, revised their votes after seeing the results of the secret ballot, in order to make sure that Dame Helen took the prize.

Charles Spencer, of the Telegraph, Georgina Brown, of the Mail on Sunday, and Susannah Clapp, of the Observer have all stepped down from their roles, although Libby Purves, formerly of the Times, and Matt Wolf, of the International Herald Tribune, are staying on the newly renamed "advisory panel".

Sarah Sands, editor of the Evening Standard, has admitted that she and Henry Hitchings, the newspaper's theatre critic, looked at the secretly cast votes of the other members of the panel, and then colluded to revise their votes to allow Dame Helen to overtake the other nominees.

After the secret ballot, where each judge assigned three points to their favourite, two to their second, and one to their third, there was a dead heat between two nominees - neither of whom were Dame Helen. But rather than give the award jointly to these two actresses, Sands and Hitchings revised their votes to allow Dame Helen to overtake them both.

"In discussion about what was a dead heat, Henry and I decided that we would go for an option that would make Helen Mirren the winner," Sands told the Times. "By doing a first and second vote we could balance the two factions with a third option, which is what happened."

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