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26 October 2019, 11:30
The Longleat manager told staff to vote for the Viscountess as the estate would reimburse them for any call charges.
Strictly Come Dancing has been hit by a voting scandal after Emma Weymouth’s boss offered to pay staff to phone in and vote for the Viscountess.
Longleat's head of animal operations Darren Beasley reassured colleagues that their calls wouldn't cost a penny as he was "authorised" to get them paid for by the business.
Workers at the Wiltshire stately home, which reportedly rakes in around £3.5million a year, were urged to show their support for Lady Emma, 33, as she battled for her spot in the BBC talent competition after she and partner Aljaž Škorjanec ended up in the bottom two earlier this month.
The Facebook screenshot that surfaced read: "So news just in… If anyone wants to help keep Lady Emma in Strictly then I’m authorised to get [marketing director] James Bailey to pay for your call.
"So keep your phone bills as proof, tell your partners, mums, dads, cousins, granny and the dog if he can dial that number for Lady Emma & Aliaz, phoning this week will be free because Longleat will pay (sic).
"Let’s keep them in for another week x. Happy voting."
The post, which was reportedly sent to 109 people, has since been shared with Strictly bosses who insisted it had no bearing whatsoever on the public vote.
A spokesman for the show told The Sun: "The BBC takes fairness in Strictly Come Dancing extremely seriously.
"Action was taken as soon as this issue was brought to BBC Studios’ attention.
"This has had no impact on the public vote."
A Longleat spokesperson chimed in on the controversy and claimed Lady Emma and her family had no knowledge of the payment offer as it wasn't officially approved.
They added that nobody "acted on the message" and it had "no effect" on the overall result, apologising for the confusion.
The estate told the publication: "It was not our policy or practice to reimburse people for votes. The message was only sent to 109 people.
"No one sought payment from Longleat or any team member, so no one acted on the message and it had no effect on the actual votes."
Emma and Aljaz will take to the dancefloor in tonight's spooky Halloween special to perform the Charleston to A Little Party Never Killed Nobody by Fergie feat. Q-Tip and GoonRock.
Strictly Come Dancing airs tonight at 6.35pm, on BBC One.