ITV may have overridden a public vote for Catherine Tate at the 2005 Comedy Awards because of an assurance it had given presenter, Robbie Williams.

Instead, the People’s Choice award was given to ITV personalities Ant and Dec, despite the BBC’s Tate receiving more votes.

The Geordie stars said they would return the prize.

It was yet another shock to emerge from the Ofcom investigation into ITV’s breaches of its own terms and conditions and Ofcom’s code.

ITV itself revealed the deception, discovered by a law firm, Olswang, that it hired to conduct an investigation into alleged irregularities at the awards ceremony.

The deception emerged as ITV was fined £5.68m over its abuse of premium rate phone lines by media regulator Ofcom.

The Olswang report stated: “Robbie Williams was invited to present an award. It was understood that he would be happy [to do so] if the recipients were Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly.

“In order to ensure his attendance, this assurance was given.”

It did clarify that it couldn’t definitively establish that Williams’ involvement led to the wrong winner being announced.

“There is no suggestion that Robbie Williams, Anthony McPartlin or Declan Donnelly were aware of any of these issues,” the report added.