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Bromley charity loses out after minibus giveaway scrapped

PUBLISHED: 10:26 22 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:26 22 January 2015

A Mercedes Sprinter minibus, similar to the one being given away

A Mercedes Sprinter minibus, similar to the one being given away

Archant

The competition to win the £36,000 bus was called off after voting irregularities

Claims of vote rigging have scuppered a giveaway which could have seen a Bromley charity win a brand new minibus worth £36,000.

The online competition – which was organised by the Axis Foundation – was cancelled after it emerged that there were voting irregularities.

The Bromley by Bow Community Organisation - which works to organise activities for local youths - had made it through to the final three charities before the competition was scrapped, when the Axis Foundation began monitoring the source of votes being made online.

The organisation launched an investigation and found that multiple votes had come from the same source, with 102 instances of multiple-voting instances and 472 votes made from the same IP address. The Axis Foundation - which is the charitable arm of Axis Europe, a company that manages housing - said the two voting irregularities were against the terms of the giveaway, which stated that only ‘one vote is permitted per person’.

In further investigations, the foundation uncovered several IP addresses which were shown to be outside the UK and had been flagged up as being on ‘suspicious activity lists’ – the foundation said that suggested automated voting may have been used.

Axis Foundation chairman, Peter Varney, described the situation as regrettable, but said that once the irregularities were discovered, the foundation had no choice.

He said: “We are deeply disheartened by this turn of events, as we had hoped that the online vote would simply be an opportunity for supporters to get behind their charity and help us identify the cause that would benefit most from the minibus.

“Sadly some over zealous third parties have taken it upon themselves to submit multiple votes, which we deem improper and causes the voting data to be discounted. The particularly sad thing about the situation is that so many genuine supporters did take the time to vote and their efforts have been undone by those responsible.”

Despite the voting irregularities, Mr Varney says that the minibus will still benefit one of the charities. It will still be given away, but instead of online votes being used to decide the winner, the foundation’s board of trustees will choose who to give the prize to.

He said: “We hope that all parties accept the decision and reasons behind it and we are confident the minibus will still offer a huge benefit wherever it is awarded as all three of these charities do great work for the people they support directly and the wider community.”

The decision on which charity will receive the minibus will be made at the next meeting of the trustees, which is scheduled for mid-February.

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