New lottery chief has clearance to sack commission members

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The Independent Online

New National Lottery chief Lord Burns will have ministers' backing to sack the remaining four commissioners if he judges it necessary, it emerged this morning.

New National Lottery chief Lord Burns will have ministers' backing to sack the remaining four commissioners if he judges it necessary, it emerged this morning.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith was responding to reports that Lord Burns wanted to get rid of the remaining members of the Lottery Commission following the debacle over awarding the new Lottery contract.

Mr Smith told GMTV: "I will be guided by him. I don't envisage that he will actually do that because that is not what the judge said he wanted when he made his judgment in court a month or so ago.

"But in these matters I will be very much guided by what Lord Burns has to say to me.

"The original commission made a mistake and I think everyone accepts that and they accept that.

"They were guided by flawed legal advice and in doing so they made a judgment about the inadequacy of two competing bids and that was a right judgment and the court was quite happy to endorse that.

"They then made a mistake in saying we are going to negotiate with one rather than with both.

"The question now is can they approach this further decision with an open mind and with fair judgment."

But despite the criticism surrounding both the handling of the Lottery and the Dome, a NOP poll for The Sunday Times asking if Mr Smith should have resigned over the chaos found only 29% said yes, while 41% said he should stay.

A vast majority backed the non-profit People's Lottery bid, even though Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson's involvement was not mentioned, compared with only 13% who favoured Camelot remaining in charge.

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