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BT scraps Internet Villain sponsorship

It's not funny, it's getting too personal

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High drama has hit Britain's "Internet Oscars" with the withdrawal of former AltaVista UK MD, Andy Mitchell, from the shortlist of "Internet Villains".

Mitchell - who was in charge during the non-launch of AltaVista UK's 'free' ISP - has been replaced by BT CEO Sir Peter Bonfield.

The updated nominations for the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) Internet Villain Award now read:

David Edmonds, Director General of the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel)
Jack Straw, The Home Office
Sir Peter Bonfield, BT plc

Under the rules of the awards, category sponsors could not also be nominated for individual honours. As the sponsor of the Internet Villain Award, BT was ruled out of the award.

But Sir Peter was such a popular vote among ISPA members, BT stood down as sponsors allowing his nomination to be admitted.

Mitchell drops down to fourth place - and, therefore, doesn't make the shortlist.

A spokesman for BT said the decision to stand down as Internet Villain sponsor was taken because it was decided the nominations were too personal.

"This could have been a bit of fun, but sadly it has become personal," said a spokesman.

A spokeswoman for ISPA denied the award had backfired on the industry body, adding that there was "no vindictive intention" with the inclusion of an Internet Villain award for the first time this year.

The shortlist was drawn up by the members of the industry body, she said.

Should Sir Peter win the award he will not pick it up in person, but will rely on a deputy instead. ®

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