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Thursday, 5 October, 2000, 21:21 GMT 22:21 UK
Lottery race 'back on track'
Dame Helena Shovelton
Dame Helena complained of media vilification
The government insists that the process to find a new operator to run the National Lottery is "back on track", despite the resignation of Dame Helena Shovelton.

Dame Helena resigned from her post as National Lottery Commission chairman blaming media "vilification" after her criticism of Camelot.


We want an independent chairperson who has not been involved in the process before

Dianne Thompson, Camelot
Her decision to stop Camelot from competing for the licence to run the new Lottery against Sir Richard Branson's People's Lottery prompted a row between the two companies.

But Culture Minister Alan Howarth insisted the contract could still be awarded in time for a new operator to be in place by the deadline of October 2001.

Speculation

"There have of course been delays which everybody is very well aware of, partly because the two contenders themselves needed to do more work and, of course, because of the decision of the court," he said.

"But the process is back on track and there is absolutely no case for speculation that it will not be possible to complete the processes in time."
Dianne Thompson
Dianne Thompson: Wants decision process to be made public

Mr Howarth went out of his way to praise Dame Helena for the work she had done and her "generous" decision to stand down.

"The remaining commissioners are people of very great ability, they have already elected a new temporary chairman, Harriet Spicer, to replace Dame Helena and the process continues in due form," he told the BBC.

But the latest developments follow Camelot's successful appeal to the High Court against the Commission's decision to stop it competing for the lottery licence.

Media 'vendetta'

Dame Helena's resignation has prompted strong reaction from the two contenders.

Simon Burridge, chief executive of the People's Lottery, claimed Dame Helena had been subjected to an "extraordinary vendetta" by Camelot in the media.
Richard Branson
Richard Branson's People's Lottery says Dame Helena was pushed.

"They bullied her out of her job," he said.

"Their only hope of salvaging anything out of the situation is by destroying the whole process and that's what they are setting about doing."

Mr Burridge said the losers would be the National Lottery and the good causes that benefit from it.

'Step in the right direction'

But Camelot welcomed Dame Helena's resignation as a "step in the right direction" to ensure fair competition.

But it said the four other commissioners should have shared the blame for the confusion over the granting of the next Lottery licence.

"The People's Lottery are trying to divert attention away from the real issue, which is that the Lottery Commission was found to have acted unlawfully and unfairly," said a Camelot spokesman.

"They should welcome a fair contest rather than criticise Camelot for trying to secure one."

Camelot's chief executive-designate Dianne Thompson said it was unhappy about suggestions that Mrs Spicer should 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.

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See also:

05 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Dame Helena: Lottery loser
05 Oct 00 | UK
Camelot ups good cause cash
24 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Lottery 'fiasco' prompts inquiry call
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