Belfast Telegraph

BBC's Stephen Nolan forced to submit FOI to access BBC information on SPOTY judging panel

The BBC's Stephen Nolan show has been forced to submit a Freedom of Information request - to gain BBC information.

The organisation has refused to disclose who decides who is on the selection panel for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, amid growing anger that no one from Northern Ireland was among its extended shortlist.

History-making boxer Carl Frampton celebrated becoming a two-weight world champion. Jonathan Rea won back-to-back Superbike titles - only the fourth man in the sport to do so and the first British rider since Carl Fogarty in 1999.

Also Bethany Firth was the most decorated Paralympian at the Rio games winning three gold and one silver medal in swimming.

Despite their heroic efforts none made the shortlist - extended in light of the Olympic year.

Of the 16 shortlisted, only two are from outside England and only two are not Olympians or Paralympians.

The panel which determined the shortlist included 12 members. All are from either England or Wales.

They include representatives from BBC Sport: Barbara Slater (Director, BBC Sport), Philip Bernie (Head of TV Sport) & Carl Doran (Executive Editor, BBC Sports Personality of the Year).

Former nominees of an award: Ryan Giggs, Victoria Pendleton & Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.

BBC Radio 5 live representative Amy Lawrence and BBC sports broadcaster Ore Oduba.

Representatives from sports journalism: David James (Sunday Mirror/Sunday People), Adam Sills (Daily/Sunday Telegraph) & Alison Kervin (Mail on Sunday)

And a representative from UK sports industry Liz Nicholl (Chief Executive, UK Sport).

However, the BBC has refused to disclose who or how it selects the shortlisting judging panel, forcing the BBC's Stephen Nolan show to submit a Freedom of Information request.

In response to Nolan, the BBC said: "Members of the expert industry panel are selected based on collective breadth and depth of sporting knowledge they are not chosen on the basis of their nationality.

Last year - when the awards were held in Belfast, Stephen Nolan also asked how many times a Northern Ireland representative was on the selection panel in each of the past 16 years.

"If the BBC don't want to give us this information voluntarily," said Nolan, "we will force it out of them."


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