Woman ran competition to win lavish £2.5m castle but failed to give away prize

Susan DeVere decided not enough people entered so offered eventual winner money instead

Colin Drury@colin__drury
Wednesday 17 April 2019 17:30
Castle owner Susan DeVere explains why she never gave away £2.5m property as raffle prize

It was a raffle where entrants paying just £5 a ticket were offered the chance to win a £2.5m Scottish castle, complete with music room, private cinema and five acres of surrounding land.

The lucky person drawn out of the hat, it was even said, would be officially granted the title of laird, a Scottish lord.

But if the prize sounded too good to be true that’s because, well, it was.

The eventual winner was actually given just £65,000 – after the castle’s owner claimed not enough tickets were sold to make giving the 19th century property away worthwhile.

Now Susan DeVere – owner of Orchardton Castle in Kirkcudbrightshire – has been reprimanded by the advertising watchdog.

After a punter complained the raffle had been misleading, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled the competition was not fair.

The alternative cash prize given – roughly a 40th of the value of the castle – was not, the watchdog said, a “reasonable equivalent”.

It ruled: “Because neither the advertised prize nor a reasonable alternative had been awarded, we concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly and was in breach of the code.”

Ms DeVere said she will appeal the ruling.

The castle, built in the 1880s, was offered as a prize after attempts to sell it had proven unsuccessful. Ms DeVere advertised the raffle on Facebook and winacastle.co.uk.

But she claims it was made explicit that, if not enough tickets were sold to cover her mortgage, a cash prize would be offered instead.

And the author told ASA that, after the draw had taken place, the winner was offered a share of the property and a chance to run a business there had they wanted to.

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She said in a statement: “It is fair enough to challenge a competition or any unfairness and it should have taken the ASA a heartbeat to look at our site and see that from the beginning everything was spelled out, including that a cash prize to the value of tickets [sold could be substituted]. Examples were given [of what] would happen if enough entries were not received.”

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