About 6.30pm on Monday the Telegraph published a story online from Phil Rothfield at the top of its website with the headline “Dally M drama: System needs an urgent overhaul”. The final vote ladder, which showed Wighton on top with 26 votes, was also published before being quickly taken down — but not before it was picked up and shared on social media.
Rothfield took to Twitter to apologise, describing it as a “production error”.
“Owing to a production error that was out of my control, The Daily Telegraph website accidentally published the winner of the Dally M award before the official announcement tonight,” he tweeted. “We apologise sincerely for the mistake.”
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Wighton said the players were unaware the results had been leaked.
“It was halfway through they came and took our phones and no-one really knew what was going on,” he told the Today Show on Tuesday morning.
“After, they told us that there was a leak. But we didn’t know too much while we were sitting in the room.”
The NRL has confirmed it will investigation the leak.
“I know mistakes do happen but we’ll certainly do an investigation to see how this happened,” ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys V’landys said.
“We’ll do an investigation and make sure this never, ever, ever happens again.”
Daily Telegraph Editor Ben English issued an apology on Tuesday morning.
“This was a scoop I would be happy not to be talking to you about,” English told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.
“We stuffed up, all we can say is that we are sorry.”
English denied the Telegraph deliberately published the winner in order to be first with the news.
“(Breaking embargo) doesn’t help us. We have strong partnerships with the NRL, Fox and our readers and we do not want to damage that trust.”
“If we didn’t have the list we would not be in a position to get all those stories into our paper. We need to write those stories in advance and the same goes for our digital operation.”
English said they would be going over their procedures “chapter and verse” to ensure such a mistake does not happen again.
“All we can do is a redoubling of all the check and balances we have in place. We thought we had all those in place.”