ENTERTAINMENT

Tory donor Richard Desmond is in the spotlight of his offer to run the National Lottery


The Tory donor, who is in the middle of a row with “Cash for Favors”, should receive no special treatment in its offer to run the National Lottery, Labor will inform the gambling watchdogs.

Richard Desmond is expected to ask Camelot for the operating license when the franchise renewal process begins in the fall.

However, the government faces questions regarding its proximity to the billionaire after housing minister Robert Jenrick received £ 1 billion in real estate development approval after sitting next to him at a tory fundraising dinner.

Mr. Desmond, who donated £ 12,000 to the party in January two weeks after receiving planning permission, was also pictured with Boris Johnson at the event and attended a drinks party at # 10 last year.

Jo Stevens, Labor Culture spokesman, will meet with the Gaming Commission next month before the next lottery license process is initiated. She will say that a "fit and right person" has to be found to take on such an "important and lucrative" role. "There are serious questions to be answered about the cozy relationship between Richard Desmond and the government," she said.

Handshake: Boris Johnson at Savoy with Richard Desmond (right), who is expected to ask Camelot for the operating license when the franchise renewal process begins in the fall

“It is really worrying that Mr. Desmond is asking for a national lottery license – one of the most profitable draws in the world. With 44,000 retail stores across the country and between 15 and 45 million tickets sold per draw, the responsibility for the operation is enormous. "

Camelot has operated the National Lottery since its inception in 1994 and had record sales of £ 7.9 billion last year. The license expires in 2023.

The 68-year-old Desmond has announced his intention to bid for the next license and has asked for it to be returned to British hands.

Camelot was acquired by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan in 2010 for £ 389 million.

Mr. Desmond has been running the rival Health Lottery since 2011 – a collection of 12 local society lotteries that collect donations for health-related causes.

He said he tried to convince Mr. Johnson to change the rules of the game so that he could raise the jackpot prize for his lottery to £ 1 million. It is officially limited to £ 400,000.

Mr. Desmond has been running the rival Health Lottery since 2011 - a collection of 12 local society lotteries that collect donations for health-related causes. Pictured: Then London Mayor Boris Johnson and Richard Desmond visit the Shadwell Community Project in London on January 14, 2014

Mr. Desmond has been running the rival Health Lottery since 2011 – a collection of 12 local society lotteries that collect donations for health-related causes. Pictured: Then London Mayor Boris Johnson and Richard Desmond visit the Shadwell Community Project in London on January 14, 2014

It was reported yesterday that he hired a PR firm owned by Ben Elliot, the Conservative Party's co-chair, to work for change.

Mr. Desmond's Northern and Shell company employed Hawthorn Advisors in January when Mr. Elliot was the company's director. Hawthorn said he had worked with Mr. Desmond "for a short period between January and March 2020 on the Health Lottery campaign to increase the jackpot."

It was said that Mr. Elliot had no contact with customers and resigned as director in April to invest his shares in a trust to avoid a conflict of interest.

No. 10 yesterday refused to answer questions about the extent of the contacts between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Desmond.

In an interview with the Daily Mail last week, the billionaire downplayed their relationship and said, "I've met the guy half a dozen times over ten years."

Mr. Jenrick was under pressure to step down because he had approved Mr. Desmond's development at the former Westferry printing house in East London.

The government faces questions about its proximity to the billionaire after housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) received £ 1billion real estate development approval after sitting next to him at a tory fundraising dinner

The government faces questions about its proximity to the billionaire after housing secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) received £ 1billion real estate development approval after sitting next to him at a tory fundraising dinner

The decision, which was later overturned, came in time to save the billionaire from the risk of a £ 45m levy.

In a text exchange with Mr. Jenrick, the businessman said: "We don't want to give the Marxists a lot of doe (sic)."

Mr. Desmond, who has an estimated net worth of £ 2 billion, started as a publisher in 1974 and became a porn baron in 1983 with the purchase of Penthouse.

A decade later he launched the celebrity magazine OK! before buying the Daily Express and Daily Star in 2000 and Channel 5 in 2010.

Mr. Desmond sold the broadcaster four years later and sold his newspaper and magazine titles in 2018.

He is now focusing on his lottery and real estate developments.

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