Austin Healey's Strictly defence

'Strictly Come Dancing' star Austin Healey said last weekend's voting scandal was a "genuine mistake", and not an attempt to rig the TV talent show

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Austin Healey

Austin Healey's Strictly defence

'Strictly Come Dancing' star Austin Healey said the show's voting scandal was a "genuine mistake".

The 35-year-old former England rugby international - who was the 13th celebrity to be voted off the TV talent show - said the scandal, which saw viewers voting for 'Holby City' actor Tom Chambers even though the judges' scores meant he had no chance of avoiding a dance-off, was an unforeseen error, and not an attempt to rig the outcome.

He said: "I think it was an unforeseen mathematical occurrence, not the BBC trying to rig the show .It was just a genuine mistake, and one that the BBC have rectified by giving refunds."

He joked: "I'm actually quite pleased. I voted four million times on Saturday night and now I'll be claiming back £3.2 million!"

The BBC - which initially refused to refund the 15p call cost - revealed yesterday (16.12.08) they will be offering refunds to fans who voted for the actor, after the broadcaster received thousands of complaints when they said they would roll the votes over to the final on Saturday (20.12.08).

Even though Tom just scraped into the final, Austin thinks he will win the series.

He added to BANG Showbiz: "I think Tom Chambers has got to be the favourite now. Although he will think he's lucky to be alive after the semi. I would like to see him win it. He's a good friend of mine."

But with each couple performing four dances, Austin says former S Club 7 star Rachel Stevens has still got a chance of stealing the crown from Tom.

He said: "It's going to be tough learning so many dances so that just might give Rachel an advantage because she seems to pick up the dances very quickly. It will be an electric night, that's for sure."

Austin was in London yesterday to launch Festive Favours, a campaign designed to inspire young people to become volunteers. Austin and nine others pedalled exercise bikes to power the lights on one of Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland trees.

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