It could be you: pounds 1m spin doctor wanted for Camelot

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The Independent Online
CAMELOT is looking for a pounds 1m "super-spin-doctor" to help it win a renewal of its licence to operate the lottery following a series of public- relations disasters.

It has shortlisted two candidates for the job of communications director, believed to be people with high-level government contacts. Charles Anson, former secretary to the Queen, is rumoured to be one of those being considered. The successful candidate will be paid a pounds 500,000 bonus if he or she helps Camelot renew the licence. This will be on top of a pounds 250,000 salary in the run-up to the new licence, beginning in 2001.

The salary will raise eyebrows. The last communications director, David Rigg, left last year after it was disclosed he received a pounds 249,000 bonus, which amounted to a 90-per-cent pay rise. He carried the can for the "fat- cat" PR disaster in August, when all 10 Camelot directors were found to be sharing a pounds 2.3m bonus pay-out.

Yesterday Camelot sources admitted it has a big image problem: "We've had to be realistic about what we can expect from someone. Naively in the past, we've wanted people to like us. I think now we're resigned to having the public just dislike us a little less. It's a bit like being traffic wardens."

After the fat-cat scandal, Camelot's image was dented by the Guy Snowden affair. Mr Snowden, American head of the Camelot founding shareholder G-Tech, lost pounds 100,000 in a libel case against Richard Branson. Mr Branson said he offered him a bribe not to make a profit-free bid for the lottery.

The case forced the lottery regulator, Peter Davis, who awarded Camelot the licence, to step down. Mr Snowden and G-Tech sold its 22-per-cent shareholding in Camelot, but it still supplies the operator with technology.

The Government has amended its lotteries Bill so that the next licence will be awarded by a committee of five appointees rather than the regulator. But the new spin-doctor's chances of picking up his or her bonus looked better last week after a subtle change in government policy. Labour's election manifesto pledged the Government to seek "an efficient, not-for- profit operator". However, last week the Government defeated an opposition amendment that tied it in to just such an operator.

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