Branson compensation could hit good causes

Sir Richard Branson's demand to be paid back the £30 million he spent on his failed National Lottery bid could hit good causes, it was claimed today.

The Virgin tycoon's People's Lottery today reiterated that it planned to fight the National Lottery Commission for compensation after losing out to rival Camelot for the next seven-year licence.

But the Commission today said that any potential payout would have to be met from funds set aside for good causes, and not out of Treasury coffers as the People's Lottery had claimed.

A spokesman said: "If we paid any money to Sir Richard then it would be the good causes that would lose out because that is where the money would have to come from.

"The Commission's budget is £2.5 million for the year so it could not be met out of our own funds.

"If we did have to pay any compensation then it would be coming from the good causes funds."

The spokesman said the Commission had asked the People's Lottery to set out its grievances in writing following a three-hour meeting last Tuesday which saw Sir Richard, his chief executive Simon Burridge and other People's Lottery executives come face to face with Commission chairman Lord Burns and his fellow commissioners.

The Commission spokesman refused to disclose the contents of the meeting but said it had no intention of bowing to Sir Richard's demands.

It means that Sir Richard is likely to have to launch legal proceedings against the Commission if he is serious about recuperating the money.

Mr Burridge told the Daily Express that the People's Lottery should be paid back with Treasury money which he claimed had made £1.5 billion out of the Lottery so far from a 12p duty on each £1 ticket.

The People's Lottery was said to feel it was "actively misled" by the Commission.

Last August the Commission gave qualified backing to the bid but later awarded the seven-year licence to run the Lottery to Camelot. The People's Lottery today said it would continue its fight for "full repayment".

A spokeswoman said: "The People's Lottery is left with no alternative but to request full repayment of its bid costs, estimated at between £25-£30 million.

"The Commission agreed to consider this once it had been formally requested in writing. We would not want to comment on where the money would have to come from."

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