The decision to honour Antony and the Johnsons with British award the Mercury Music Prize 2005 has come under fire - as the band is American.

British contenders for the coveted gong were livid when the winner was announced last night (06SEP05), and rapper M.I.A stormed out.

But the triumphant rockers, who impressed the judges with their album I AM A BIRD NOW , were eligible for the competition as lead singer ANTONY HEGARTY was born in England before growing up in the US.

Hegarty says, "It's interesting you're calling me an American artist. I was born in Britain but I just feel really pleased to be a part of this."

However, Kaiser Chiefs, the band who were originally tipped to win, insist an outfit with just one UK-born member shouldn't be allowed to compete with a homegrown British band.

Drummer NICK HODGESON fumes, "He's an American, really. It's a good album but it's daft he's got in on a technicality."

But chairman of the judges SIMON FRITH argues, "The album was deemed eligible, we listened to it and we decided it could not fail to move anyone who heard it.

"That's what a Mercury record should be all about."