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Vox pop, but not as we know it

You wouldn't expect the opportunity to take part in our weekly website poll to be lost on learndirect, the Government's online learning operation run by the University for Industry.

And when the poll asked whether UfIlearndirect should continue to exist, it was all hands to the pump, I hear.

The largest number of visits to the voting page actually came from a German company which has been scanning our website. Spying, it seems, is not as glamorous as it was during the war.

This company didn't register any votes but the site received 911 in favour of learndirect from just seven organisations. This accounted for 90 per cent of the voting activity, meaning poor old Joe Public didn't get a look-in.

And what did these outfits have in common? You guessed it. They are all involved in learndirect. This includes 186 yes-votes from the computer system of Uf... itself and 477 which were traced to Business Link West Yorkshire.

Our computer wizards have discovered there were 10 times as many votes as there were computers used to log on to the site - suggesting a lot of "hot-desking".

A mole tells me Uf... prompted its partners to vote by bringing the vox pop and FE Focus's recent "negative" publicity to their attention.

Uf... refused to comment on this.

A spokeswoman told me: "It is important that I do not devote inappropriate amounts of time to this issue."

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