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UK National Lottery operator Camelot knew manager was spying on rivals

Feb 25, 2008, 3:51 pm

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UK National Lottery

A manager at Camelot, the operator of the United Kingdom's National Lottery, used false identities to gather intelligence on rival companies, according to an official investigation.

Alexia Latham, a media relations manager, used three aliases to glean information over a 10-month period as Camelot fought off competitors to win a lucrative 10-year license.

On one occasion, Latham, 34, posed as a student using the name Karen Dikins and a fake e-mail address to dupe a leading lottery consultant into giving advice.

The Cambridge law graduate was eventually caught out when the consultant, Sydney-based Glenn Barry, received an "out-of-office" reply from Latham's Camelot account to which she was redirecting her e-mails.

When Barry complained to Camelot, the company twice denied that Latham and Dikins were the same person.

However, a report published last week by the National Lottery Commission (NLC), the watchdog, reveals that Camelot's bid and strategy director raised concerns about Latham's use of subterfuge in May 2006, eight months before she was publicly exposed.

Camelot, which has run the UK lottery since it started in 1994, was awarded a new 10-year license by the NLC last August.

Following a close competition, the company beat off a rival bid from Sugal & Damani, which runs state lotteries in India. The new license will begin in February next year.

Last week the NLC concluded that Camelot had not breached license rules and said Latham's actions were "most likely those of a single, relatively junior employee who has gone beyond her remit".

The inquiry found that between March and June 2006 Latham contacted 13 individuals, including two companies advising the NLC on the new license competition, using the aliases Sandra Nikolaides and Louisa or Elouisa Parson.

In November 2006 Latham initiated contact with Barry, posing as Dikins, a business student researching lottery contracts. She asked him whether Sugal & Damani had "any chance of winning" the new UK license.

The NLC concluded that the information acquired by Latham was in the public domain or had "little or no commercial value".

Latham was publicly exposed when Barry lodged a complaint with the NLC in January 2007. Camelot immediately accepted her offer of resignation.

The company said, "Camelot's commitment to the highest standards of probity means that it cannot and will not condone this type of behavior."

Latham was not available for comment.

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