Last post for the Proms queue jumpers

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THE GREAT British queue's reputation as a hallmark of civilised behaviour has been debunked. For nigh on 50 years one of the most celebrated queues in the country has been brazenly playing the system.

The Royal Albert Hall management said yesterday that this summer it would be changing arrangements for the daily line of 1,000 people who turn up in the hope of capturing the best positions at Promenade concerts.

It has discovered that a small band of people had been arriving at the hall on their way to work, putting their names on a list stuck on a lamp-post in the street, then returning at 7pm to claim their place in front of the stage.

Patrick Deuchar, the hall's chief executive, said that people who had been queuing all day during last year's season under the impression that they would be first in, were 'visibly disturbed' on finding the lamp-post brigade took precedence. He added that this system, which had the blessing of the stewards, had been going on since the Proms moved to the Albert Hall in the Second World War.

Those names found most often on the lamp-post have been traced and summoned to the Albert Hall for a meeting with senior staff. They have been told that this is one great British tradition which will have to end.

Karen Booth, an American who is the hall's marketing director, said: 'There is nothing like this in America. If you are in a line then you are in a line. If you're not there then you're not there.' Mr Deuchar said: 'People have just been putting their names down then going off to work. It has been going on since the Proms came here. The people in the queue who navely believed they were at the front have been most disturbed.'

He added that he did not think it right for him to divulge the names of people who had been using the lamp-post; but it had been the same people for a number of years.

Meetings with them had been friendly, but firm.