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UK Politics

BBC must include women in sports award shortlist, says Harman

The BBC was facing a growing backlash last night over the absence of any women from its shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year.

Harriet Harman, deputy Labour leader, demanded a rethink, while female MPs wrote to director-general, Mark Thompson, protesting that the omission would deter women from taking part in sport. The BBC said yesterday it stood by the shortlisting system, but promised to review it for next year.

Ms Harman said names on the 10-strong list could have included Jessica Ennis, the athlete, Chrissie Wellington, the triathlete, Rebecca Adlington and Keri-Anne Payne, the swimmers, and Sarah Stevenson, the taekwondo champion. "They are inspirations to girls and young sportswomen," she said.

"It is not good enough for the BBC just to review the shortlist process for next year," she added. "They must act to ensure women are included this year."

In a letter to Mr Thompson, MPs accused the BBC of "ignoring women's achievements" in 2011.