Bogus letters threaten to ruin the national contest for student liars

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The Independent Online

A national art and design competition that asked students to "tell a convincing lie" was almost ruined after two anonymous pranksters sentbogus letters calling it off.

A national art and design competition that asked students to "tell a convincing lie" was almost ruined after two anonymous pranksters sentbogus letters calling it off.

Their prank threw the organisers of the Donside Student Awards into confusion, forcing them to send out hundreds of letters and make scores of telephone calls pleading with other entrants to ignore the spoof.

The judges are now wondering whether the jokers will reveal their identities when the winners are announced on Tuesday at the Royal Society of Arts in London. It is the first time the annual competition, held since 1990, has been disrupted in such a manner.

In the final weeks of the competition, which closes to entrants today, one student decided to redesign the entrance form and change its wording from "start now" to "stop now" before sending it to universities and art colleges.

The designer's bid to rid himself of competition failed when organisers were alerted by Blackpool and Newcastle universities. They immediately rustled up a letter, which they mailed to all the 250 universities invited to take part.

But the Donside Student Awards were again threatened when another joker senta letter postponing the submission date and telling his competitors, who had submitted their application forms, to resubmit them.

The organisers and panel were forced to warn other students of the second prank because of the short deadline.

Janette Mackie, who works at Donside, said yesterday: "We think this is the students' way of tackling the brief, but it has been quite disruptive."Students will have to wait until Tuesday to find out whether either of the pranksters has won. "We are looking forward to finding that out," she said.

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