London, July 22 (ANI): A huge row started after it emerged that the winner of the Miss England contest, Linford Christie's niece Rachel, had won just nine public votes.
Rachel, 20, a heptathlete, had won the title after a panel of six judges deemed her the best of 15 shortlisted beauty queens.
However, their decision did not tally with the public's, who had each shelled out 1 pound to vote for their favourite in a poll.
As per the public vote, compiled by a premium rate phone line on Miss England's official website, Rachel finished only 49th out of the 54 original contestants after securing just her handful of the 10,000 registered votes.
The public's most popular choice was Miss Oxfordshire Zoiey Smale who had secured 2,013 votes, yet she failed to even make the top three when the panel made their final selection at a central London hotel on Monday night.
Lance Cpl Katrina Hodge, who was the judges' runner-up, came 18th in the public poll with 128.
"The judges know best as they met and talked to the finalists. The public hadn't met the girls," the Sun quoted competition spokesman Dee Carpenter as saying on July 21.
But one contestant, on condition of anonymity, questioned the "odd" decision of the judges.
"It seems very odd that the overall winner, chosen by the judges, won so few public votes," she said.
"The competition is far more than just a beauty contest, but it looks like the judges were totally out of touch with the public.
"I feel sorry for the members of the public who bothered to vote. Their opinions have been ignored," she said.
Miss England is chosen over a period of weeks leading up to the two-day final.
The judges, who included ex-model Caprice, select from a shortlist of 15 girls.
To reach the final, girls must win award categories, which include Best Smile, the Fresh Modelesque Award, and England's Got Talent.
The public poll is held over four weeks and the girl with the most votes enters the final as winner of Miss Public Vote, and contest judges select seven other finalists.
Rachel, also on course to appear at the 2012 Olympics, won the Helen E Cosmetics award to reach the final.
"I want to be successful in whatever I choose to do in life," Rachel told the judges.
Katrina, 21, beat thousands of entrants to reach the competition's final stages.
"Everybody calls me Combat Barbie. I'm proof you don't have to be butch to join the forces," the brunette, in the Royal Anglian Regiment, said. (ANI)