A STATEMENT accusing the North-East Says No campaign of under-representing women has been dismissed as ridiculous.

The North-East Women's Forum yesterday said it condemned the group, which is opposing an elected North-East assembly, for perpetuating what it described as the male-dominated culture of the North-East.

Forum chairwoman Mary Meling said that out of 112 members on the campaign group's board, there appeared to be only five women.

She said: "The prospect of a North-East regional assembly offers an excellent opportunity for women to get more involved with public and political life in the region.

"Women are chronically under-represented in the North-East at present, and an elected regional assembly, with its system of proportional representation for elections, offers a real opportunity to change that."

But a North-East Says No spokesman dismissed the accusation.

He said: "This is the most ridiculous statement I have ever seen issued by a political organisation.

"The real issues in this referendum are about whether people want more politicians, higher council tax and an assembly with no powers to do any good."