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Balls bites the dust, but did the WMN's Graeme bite his legs?

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 02, 2012

  • Ed Balls passes Graeme Demianyk (right) and starts to fall with a grace that some have compared to Olympic medal winner Tom Daley. He eventually hit the ground, bottom left, and won a penalty

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The Western Morning News was at the eye of a political storm yesterday as Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was accused of diving to win a penalty in a pre-conference football match.

The Labour MP fell to the ground during a game between MPs and political journalists, and then returned to his feet to score from the penalty spot.

The penalty was given away by Graeme Demianyk, London Editor of the Western Morning News. But even Labour MPs playing in the match accused him of going down too easily, with one comparing him to Plymouth's Olympic diving sensation Tom Daley.

After reports of the incident in yesterday's national newspapers, Mr Balls denied diving – but admitted the linesman was a Labour councillor.

The successful spot kick was one of two goals he scored for the Politicians in a 3-0 victory over the Press in an annual conference fixture.

"The Press, who went down 3-0, are saying I went down easy. A bit of sour grapes," he told Sky News. "The referee said to me 'stonewall penalty' straight away. That was confirmed by the FA-approved linesman, who as it happens turns out to be a Labour councillor in Oxfordshire. We are keeping that quiet," he joked.

Video footage of the incident appeared to show the Shadow Chancellor going to ground after a slight contact. On Sunday, the video was among the ten most popular clips on the BBC News website, and was quickly dubbed "divegate" on Twitter.

Mr Balls said afterwards: "I didn't deliberately go down – he took my leg."

But Labour MP Steve Rotheram told him: "You went down in installments."

What does Graeme have to say on the matter? "There was contact, but I was moving in the other direction so didn't see the fall, but most on the pitch seemed to think it was a soft penalty decision," he says, diplomatically.

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