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£5 raffle to win Scottish castle ruled ‘unfair’ by watchdog | UK News

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A woman who pledged to give away her Scottish castle in a raffle has been rapped by the advertising watchdog for switching the prize to a cash alternative.

Susan DeVere launched the competition on Facebook and the winacastle.co.uk website after her attempts to sell Orchardton Castle failed.

Built in the 1880s, the 17-bedroom property is situated near Auchencairn in Kirkcudbrightshire and comes with five acres of land.

It had been valued at between £1.5m and £2.5m and the winner of raffle was promised the opportunity to “win the whole building freehold”.

Tickets for the raffle cost £5 – however, it failed to generate enough sales to clear the mortgage so Ms DeVere changed the prize to cash giveaways of £65,000, £7,000 and £5,000.

They were handed out in June last year and a person complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that the raffle had been administered unfairly because the prize had been changed.

Ms DeVere told the ASA that it was made clear from the outset of the competition that the prize would be changed to cash if not enough entries were received.

She said the winner was also offered a share of the property and a chance to run a business there had they wanted to, which she said was a goodwill offer unconnected to the competition, but the winner chose to accept the money.

The ASA said the complainant had entered the contest 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, £7,000 and £5,000 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 she intends to appeal against the ruling.

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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