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Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Smith denies lottery shambles
Lottery balls
The lottery has raised 15bn for good causes
The government has said it expects recent difficulties with the running of the National Lottery to be resolved swiftly.

The Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, has called on all sides to act constructively to resolve the uncertainties, following the resignation of the head of the Lottery Commission.

The current operators Camelot and Sir Richard Branson's People's Lottery are locked in combat over who will take over the running of the game.

The licence for running the lottery runs out in October next year.

Megaphone diplomacy

Mr Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I wish that both sides would talk constructively rather than engaging in megaphone diplomacy over the airwaves."

He hopes to have a replacement for Dame Helena Shovelton, the former commission chairwoman, in place by the end of the week.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith
Chris Smith has appealed for constructive progress
She resigned after the High Court overturned the commission's decision not to let Camelot compete for the new licence.

Mr Smith said her resignation was largely due to criticism from the press, which branded the entire process a shambles.

"It's not a mess,'' said Mr Smith. "I intend to make sure the process delivers a proper result within the time period."

'Flawed decision'

But he has accepted that the Lottery Commission should not have denied Camelot, which has run the lottery since 1994, the chance to compete in the bidding.


It is crucial that the smooth running of the National Lottery is guaranteed

Chris Smith, Culture Secretary
"Camelot were upset by the flawed decision," he said. "They now have a job to do with the new commissioners, who'll set out to do an impartial job."

Mr Smith said he had a political responsibility to ensure the process was carried out "fairly, responsibly and impartially", and dismissed Conservative calls for him to accept blame for the difficulties.

Dame Helena's replacement could be delayed, because candidates have to be subjected to stringent checks.

Nolan checks

Under the Nolan procedures for regulating standards among public figures, the new chairman would have to prove they were totally impartial.

Mr Smith said all sides should be working together. "Branson, Camelot and the commission must get down to business," he said.

"It is crucial that the smooth running of the National Lottery is guaranteed.''


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24 Aug 00 | UK Politics
25 Aug 00 | Business
19 Feb 99 | UK Politics
05 Oct 00 | UK
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