THE cheap populism of David Blunkett knows no bounds. Yesterday he rushed to support the view of those who think that convicted criminals should probably not be allowed to play the National Lottery and certainly not to win it. A convicted rapist, Iorworth Hoare, won 7.2 million pounds last Saturday after buying a ticket while on day release as he comes to the end of his sentence. He committed no offence in buying the ticket as a prisoner and is under no legal obligation to pay back the money or give it to the Victims's Fund, as some have suggested.

Mr Blunkett rushed to write a short article in the Sun newspaper which began: “There's no justice in a convicted rapist winning the Lottery while his victims still suffer from what he did to them. We can't stop a prisoner or their family from buying a ticket but we can look closely at making sure they don't benefit from a single penny while in prison.” The Home Secretary chose his words carefully but the Sun interpreted them in this way: “Furious David Blunkett last night vowed to grab a chunk of Iorworth Hoare's Lotto win for his victims. The Home Secretary promised laws to try to stop the rapist keeping his seven million.” The fact is that unless Hoare's money is taken from him by means of retrospective legislation, which would be a legal outrage, he is entitled to keep it. It is too late for his victims to sue him for compensation because the six–year deadline for this passed a long time ago. Not “justice”, perhaps, but fact.

Mr Blunkett is introducing new legislation to ensure that “crime does not pay”. But buying a Lottery ticket is not a crime, is it?


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