Lottery minister John Whittingdale is caught in conflict of interest row as it emerges his daughter works for Camelot PR firm
- Lottery Minister in conflict of interest row as it emerges his daughter works for a lobbying firm employed by Camelot
- John Whittingdale has been in charge of gambling since March this year
- The Times reported his daughter Alice works for PR firm Pagefield
- Pagefield, Camelot and the Department for Digital denied a conflict of interest
Lottery Minister John Whittingdale is caught in a conflict of interest row as it emerges that his 24-year-old daughter works for a lobbying firm employed by Camelot, the National Lottery operator.
Mr Whittingdale has been in charge of gambling and lotteries at the Department for Digital, Culture & Media since March, when the role was transferred from Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.
A conflict of interest row was sparked after the Times reported that the minister’s daughter Alice Whittingdale works for Pagefield, a PR company that counts Camelot among its clients.
Lottery Minister John Whittingdale is caught in a conflict of interest row as it emerges that his 24-year-old daughter works for a lobbying firm employed by Camelot, the National Lottery operator
Pagefield’s website says that Ms Whittingdale joined the firm in 2018 after graduating from the University of Exeter, and works in corporate communications and public affairs.
A spokesman for Pagefield categorically denied there was a conflict of interest, telling MailOnline that Ms Whittingdale joined as a researcher and has never worked on the Camelot account.
‘There is absolutely no conflict of interest – and never has been – in our employment of Alice,’ the spokesman said, adding: ‘The Times story has only had the effect of upsetting a 24-year-old who has done nothing wrong.’
A friend of Mr Whittingdale told MailOnline: ‘This is absolute nonsense and any allegations of impropriety are completely unfounded. It was all properly disclosed and considered by civil servants prior to John taking on the gambling brief.’
Mr Whittingdale listed his daughter’s job on the parliamentary register of members’ interests, describing her as a ‘researcher’. Her profile on Pagefield’s website states that she is a ‘senior executive’.
A conflict of interest row was sparked after the Times reported that the minister’s daughter Alice Whittingdale works for Pagefield, a PR company that counts Camelot among its clients
Last year, the Gambling Commission launched a competition to award the next 10-year lottery licence after the existing deal expires in 2023. However, gambling campaigners are questioning the transparency of the process.
Matt Zarb-Cousin, of the Clean Up Gambling campaign, told the Times: ‘Alongside the former gambling minister Hugh Robertson subsequently being appointed chair of Camelot, these revelations call into question the impartiality of an opaque process for the next lottery licence.
‘There has to be appropriate scrutiny of Camelot’s poor record, and the public has a right to know what other operators bidding for the contract would do differently.’
The commission says the competition is run independently of DCMS and Mr Whittingdale has no direct involvement, the paper reported.
Transparency campaigner Dr Alex May added: ‘I’m astonished none of the other publicly known bidders have called out Mr Whittingdale on this.’
A source at DCMS told MailOnline that the Independent Adviser at the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics Office was notified that Mr Whittingdale’s daughter works at Pagefield.
They said it was made clear that at no point has she worked for Camelot as a client of Pagefield, adding that the Independent Adviser was content that there is no conflict of interest.