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Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Camelot cheers Lottery boss exit
Dame Helena Shovelton
Dame Helena Shovelton: 'Vilifaction of me personally'
Lottery operator Camelot has welcomed the resignation of the National Lottery Commission chairman as "a step in the right direction".

But it said Dame Helena Shovelton's four fellow commissioners should have shared the blame for the confusion over the granting of the next Lottery licence.

Dame Helena resigned on Wednesday blaming media "vilification" of her, following criticism of her by Camelot.

Camelot had been stopped from competing for the licence against Sir Richard Branson's People's Lottery, but successfully appealed against the ruling in the High Court.

The company was concerned that the other commissioners had not accepted responsibility for events, said chief executive-designate of Camelot, Dianne Thompson.

Dianne Thompson
Dianne Thompson: Wants decision process to be made public
She said Camelot was unhappy at a suggestion that existing commissioner Harriet Spicer, a former managing director of publisher Virago, was to be the new chairman.

"We want an independent chairperson who has not been involved in the process before and will look at it with fresh eyes," she said, announcing increased Lottery funding for good causes.

"We will be seeking from the remaining commissioners the assurances we originally sought from Dame Helena that they can judge our bid objectively and on its merits.

"This means the commissioners must also rescind the statement they made following the High Court judgment that our competitor would raise more money for good causes - a conclusion which the judge had found to be seriously flawed."

Camelot now wants the rest of the decision-making process to be made public.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said earlier he was sorry to see Dame Helena go, but "fully understood why she has made this personal decision".

A Downing Street spokeswoman said that Dame Helena's resignation "was a decision taken entirely by herself".

The spokeswoman added that she was "not..aware" of any discussion in the past day between the prime minister and the culture secretary over Dame Helena's future.

'Acted unfairly'

The High Court found that the commission had acted unfairly in excluding Camelot from the race to win the next lottery while continuing to negotiate with rival Richard Branson's the People's Lottery.

The judge ordered the commission to restart negotiations with Camelot.

But in the absence of an apology from the commission, Camelot had become increasingly dissatisfied.


It was the entire Lottery Commission that decided our bid would raise the most money for good causes

People's Lottery spokesman
Camelot had also said that Dame Helena and the rest of the board had refused to give detailed assurances that the new selection process would be fair.

But a spokesman for Richard Branson's the People's Lottery said he hoped Dame Helena's resignation would not affect their chances of being granted the next Lottery licence.

"It was the entire Lottery Commission that decided our bid would raise the most money for good causes, not just Dame Helena," the spokesman said.

"Clearly we hope the remaining members of the Commission will stand by that decision and not be bullied into choosing the desperate incumbent."

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The BBC's Nick Higham
"Dame Helena has been in the firing line since August"

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05 Oct 00 | UK
24 Aug 00 | UK Politics
25 Aug 00 | Business
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