They wrote: "We would like to offer our sincere apologies for the recent events regarding the Campaign Press Awards. Entering the work in anything but the form in which it ran was a bad error of judgment. And one that shall not be repeated."
The deception was discovered after COI Communications noticed entries for its UK Online paedophile awareness campaign - art directed by Belford - was different from those that ran. An ad for the Samaritans, art directed by Belford and Paul Burch, did not run in the press at all.
A meeting at AMV between the chairman, Michael Baulk, the chief executive, Cilla Snowball, and the executive creative director, Peter Souter, was taking place to talk about the job offer as Campaign went to press.
They were expected to discuss the possible effect of the Belford and Roberts' arrival at the agency, which handles substantial COI business.