BBC confounded as Sports Personality calls connect to Clifford Chance

A handful of sports fans attempting to vote by mobile phone for their choice of BBC Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday night (16 December) were surprised to find that their calls were directed to Clifford Chance.

Two people have reported reaching the law firm’s switchboard when trying to vote by mobile for athletes named on the shortlist for the showpiece event. It is understood that the firm logged one call intended for the TV show, although more are thought to have encountered the same problem.

There were no issues with landline calls, for which there was a different phone number.

Journalist Susie Mesure was trying to vote for Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Jessica Ennis on her mobile but twice got through to the magic circle firm’s switchboard.

She posted on social media site Twitter at the time: “Twice. Twice I’ve dialed [sic] the number for Jess and twice I’ve got through to CLIFFORD CHANCE [sic],” before ending with the hashtag “#lawyerconspiracy”.

Another tweet by her said: “[M]e and others got through to Clifford Chance while ringing to vote!” She added: “And the winner is: Clifford Chance.”

Mesure told The Lawyer: “When I rang they said I was the only one. But I rang immediately at the start. [I] spoke to a man then a lady I think. Or vice versa.”

Another journalist, Jane Merrick, who is a colleague of Mesure, called through to the firm when trying to vote for Olympic double long-distance gold-medal winner Mo Farah.

She tweeted at a colleague during the voting period: “[C]an you do one for me as when I call 6228204 [the number to vote for Farah] it’s sodding Clifford Chance.”

Ennis came second on the night with 372,765 votes, behind cyclist Bradley Wiggins, who won with 492,064 mandates. Farah missed out on the top three, coming fourth with 131,327 votes, behind tennis player Andy Murray on 230,444.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re not aware of anyone going through to a wrong number when trying to vote for Sports Personality of the Year. More than 1.5 million votes were cast, making it the biggest Sports Personality vote ever.”

Clifford Chance declined to comment.