UK Lottery Minister John Whittingdale has been the subject of controversy this week following a report in The Times which revealed that his daughter, Alice, works for Pagefield, a PR agency that is currently contracted by National Lottery operator Camelot.
The report raises questions about a possible conflict of interest as the competition for the Fourth National Lottery Licence nears the finish line. The tender, which is being run by the UK Gambling Commission, is being contested by Camelot, Italy’s SISAL, India’s Sugal & Damani, and the Czech Republic’s SAZKA Group under the UK identity of Allwyn.
Whittingdale has been the Gambling and Lottery Minister since March, when the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport transferred the role from now sports minister Nigel Huddleston.
Pagefield has Ms Whittingdale listed as a senior executive in corporate communications, while the Minister has his daughter listed as a researcher in the parliamentary interests documentation.
The story has also been covered by the MailOnline, where a spokesperson for Pagefield was quoted: “There is absolutely no conflict of interest – and never has been – in our employment of Alice. The Times story has only had the effect of upsetting a 24-year-old who has done nothing wrong.”
In the same report, a spokesperson for John Whittingdale stated: “This is absolute nonsense and any allegations of impropriety are completely unfounded. It was all properly disclosed and considered by civil servants prior to John taking on the gambling brief.”
The winner of the Fourth National Lottery Licence competition will be announced in February 2022, with a two-year transition period leading to a changeover in February 2024.