Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence



  1 April 1999—the National Lottery Commission took office to replace the Director General of the National Lottery and Oflot.

  23 November 1999—Robin Squire, one of the original commissioners resigned.

  30 November 1999—the National Lottery Commission (following consultation including the prior issuing of a draft invitation to apply) publishes its ITA—the invitation to apply for bidders to apply for the next seven-year lottery licence, based on open and fair competition.

  30 November 1999—Following the publication of the ITA, Camelot and The Post Office announce they will be bidding together for the next National Lottery franchise.

  29 February 2000—Deadline for bids to run the next licence to be submitted.

  17 May 2000—the National Lottery Commission informs Camelot about a fault in the UK lottery software that was found by GTech in June 1998. Camelot was not aware before this date that there had been a problem.

  23 June 2000—the National Lottery Commission extends the bid timetable to allow both bidders to improve their proposals. It says the preferred bidder will be announced by the end of August. The NLC goes on record to say the delay is not due to the GTech issues: ". . . The Commission insists that the problems with GTech have no bearing on the decision to extend the timetable and says it is doing it for the good of the consumer" (Source: Sunday Business, page 5, 25 June 2000).

  6 July 2000—GTech announces that it has accepted the resignations of Bill O'Connor, the company's chairman and chief executive officer and Steve Nowick, its president and chief operating officer. GTech says that the pair resigned for a number of factors, including the handling of the software issue.

  17 July 2000—Deadline for improvements to be made to bids. Camelot has no further discussions on bid-related issues with the National Lottery Commission.

  28 July 2000—Camelot's Chairman, Sir George Russell, receives a letter from Dame Helena Shovelton, the Chair of the National Lottery Commission, which says the Commission will no longer pursue the issue of GTech not being "fit and proper".

  The letter states: "The Commission has decided, in the light of the representations made to it by Camelot Group plc and GTech, not to proceed further with a determination that the GTech corporation is not a fit and proper person to manage part of the business of running the National Lottery."

  23 August 2000—Nearly six months after the two bids were submitted the Chair of the National Lottery Commission, Dame Helena Shovelton announces at a lunchtime press conference that neither of the bidders' plans met the "statutory criteria for granting a licence".

  Dame Helena said the competition for the next licence was now at an end but that it would proceed on a new process with one bidder only—The People's Lottery. They hoped to reach a solution within a one-month deadline, but said if the negotiations failed they would ask the Government to "take such steps that will keep the lottery running".

  The Commission said that because of the GTech software glitch it could not be satisfied in granting Camelot a seven-year licence. However, later in the day Dame Helena admitted they could not rule Camelot out of the running. Press reports quoted her as saying: "If for some reason the negotiations with The People's Lottery fail in the course of the next month, then at that stage we will discuss with the Government what steps to take next. I will rule nothing out, Camelot is not ruled out." (Source: Press Association, PA NewsFile, 23 August, 2000, 14:10).

  25 August 2000—Camelot's Chief Executive Designate, Dianne Thompson, announces the company is going to challenge the National Lottery Commission's decision in court.

  29 August 2000—Camelot takes its case to the High Court where the Judge grants permission for judicial review, although the court allows negotiations between The National Lottery Commission and The People's Lottery to continue.

  Camelot's Chief Executive Designate Dianne Thompson says the company "welcomes" the court decision.

  Dianne also revealed that Camelot had put forward to the Commission proposals to meet their stated concerns over its technology supplier GTech and had in fact agreed with GTech to buy all relevant lottery software from them and take over their UK operation and staff.

  Dianne Thompson announced: "This will give us complete control over the management of our lottery software and enable us to operate independently from GTech, while retaining the benefit of GTech software which has a proven track record in efficiently running the UK's National Lottery and is used in 70 per cent of the world's lotteries."

  6 September 2000—Camelot's Chief Executive Designate Dianne Thompson hand delivers a letter to the National Lottery Commission calling on them to respond to and accept Camelot's solution to the Commission's concerns about GTech, which was explained in a letter to the Commission the previous week.

  The new agreement with GTech provided for Camelot to buy out GTech UK. No reply had been received to that earlier letter.

  6 September 2000—The National Lottery Commission replies to Camelot's letter explaining that it is unable to enter into correspondence on this issue as it had decided to negotiate exclusively with The People's Lottery.

  18 September 2000—In a landmark case Camelot takes the National Lottery Commission to court for a judicial review of the licence decision process.

  21 September 2000—Camelot wins Judicial Review and is given one month to negotiate with the NLC.

  4 October 2000—Dame Helena Shovelton resigns as Chair of the National Lottery Commission.

  12 October 2000—Lord Burns appointed new Chair of the NLC.

  24 October 2000—Camelot resubmits bid to the NLC with plans to take over GTech's operation in the UK and to raise at least £15 billion for Good Causes in a socially responsible way.

  25 October 2000—Lord Burns (Chair of the NLC) asks the remaining National Lottery Commissioners to stay on—states that continuity would be in the best interests of everyone: bidders, players and the Good Causes.

  25 October 2000—Lord Burns (Chair of the NLC) announces revised timetable.

November 2000

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Prepared 11 December 2000