This today from the Times:

Those who questioned whether reading was high on the list of the singer Lily Allen’s recreations appeared to be vindicated yesterday when the organisers of the £30,000 Orange Prize for fiction admitted that they had dropped her from their panel of judges after she failed to turn up to meetings.

Eyebrows were raised last year when the 22-year-old singer was controversially appointed to the judging team for the highbrow prize.

Reading books seems to have proved too much for Allen, a popular party girl who had a No 1 hit with Smile and regularly features in the gossip columns. At the time of her appointment, critics observed that serious writers had been sacrificed in the pursuit of celebrity.

Kirsty Lang, chairman of this year’s panel, insisted that Allen had been a good choice of judge, and that the critics who had disparaged her were “being snobby and elitist”.

Only if it’s snobby and elitist to read a book occasionally – piffle!

The shortlist was announced weeks after leading authors questioned whether there was any need for the Orange Prize when women writers were winning prizes in fair competition with men.

A. S. Byatt told The Times that the Orange was a “sexist prize” and that she had forbidden her publishers from submitting her novels.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London on June 4.

I do have to question the need for a women’s only book prize, as it does sort of suggest that women aren’t good enough to compete with men.