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Phone firm made 2,000 per cent error in newspaper poll

A phone company error in a newspaper phone poll indicated almost one in four of the population may have called to register their view.

Jersey Telecom counted the number of seconds of call time rather than the number of calls made.

So when the Jersey Evening Post revealed on its front page that there had been 21,779 calls regarding a key St Helier waterfront land deal, reporters were working from figures which had overestimated the interest by more than 2,000 per cent.

The paper had asked Jersey Telecom to confirm the original set of figures before publication. The permanent population of the island, according to the 2001 census, is 87,186.

Yet the true figure was 881 votes in favour of the land deal and 134 against.

Editor Chris Bright, in an article describing Jersey Telecom’s error, said: “We apologise to our readers, and to those directly involved in the Les Pas issue, for this very embarrassing mistake. We very much regret the situation, but also appreciate Jersey Telecom’s prompt admission of error.”

And he added that despite the major discrepancy in numbers, the ratio between “Yes” and “No” votes in both sets of figures remained the same.

Jersey Telecom managing director Bob Lawrence has apologised for supplying the newspaper with incorrect information for the Les Pas vote line.

In a letter to the Evening Post he said: “I write to apologise to the JEP, States Members and all others who are involved in the debate over the ownership of land at the St Helier waterfront for the error Jersey Telecom made in issuing incorrect results for the JEP vote line.

“We fully recognise the critical importance of the decision that the States is being asked to make on this matter and we are extremely embarrassed that the information we provided was inaccurate.”

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