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Castle owner rapped by watchdog over property raffle

Susan DeVere set up a raffle to sell Orchardton Castle but a winner was given a cash prize instead.

Castle: The property was valued at up to £2.5m.
Castle: The property was valued at up to £2.5m.

The owner of a Scottish castle has been rapped by an advertising watchdog over a botched raffle she launched to get rid of the property.

Susan DeVere set up the contest after her attempts to sell Orchardton Castle, near Auchencairn, Kirkcudbrightshire, failed.

Tickets for the raffle, launched on Facebook and the winacastle.co.uk website, cost £5 and the winner was promised the opportunity to "win the whole building freehold".

However, the raffle failed to generate enough ticket sales and the prize was changed to cash giveaways of £65,000, £7000 and £5000, which were handed out in June last year.

Built in the 1880s, the 17-bedroom property had been valued at between £1.5m and £2.5m and comes with five acres of land and views across the Solway Firth.

One person complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) the raffle had been administered unfairly because the prize had been changed to a cash amount.

Mrs DeVere told the ASA all property competitions were run in the same way and the castle could not be awarded if there were not enough entries received to clear the mortgage.

She said it was made clear from the beginning that if not enough entries were received, the property would not be awarded and a cash prize would be offered instead.

Mrs DeVere added that after the prize 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, which was a goodwill offer unconnected to the competition.

The winner chose to accept the cash prize. The ASA said the complainant had entered the promotion in the hope of winning the castle.

It said: "We understood that at the end of the competition three cash prizes were awarded at the value of £65,000, £7000 and £5000 instead of the advertised prize, because the minimum number of entries had not been reached, and that the advertiser had offered the winner a share of the property.

"However, we considered that a share of the property or any cash alternative that was less than the value of the property, were not reasonable equivalents to the prize as advertised.

"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."

Mrs DeVere 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."

She said she intends to appeal the ruling.

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