A prominent British politician has accused the UK Gambling Commission of a “cover up” over how a convicted rapist was able to claim a £2.5 million ($3.11 million) lottery win with an allegedly fraudulent ticket.
A Gambling Commission report said that Edward Putnam, who served seven years in the nineties for raping a pregnant teenager, was “more likely than not” to have used a “deliberately damaged” bogus ticket to claim the prize in 2009.
The modicum of doubt exists because UK national lottery operator Camelot has lost the offending ticket, a fact that resulted in the regulator hitting it with a £3 million ($3.7 million) fine over its “serious failings”.
“It’s a bit like losing the murder weapon,” a source close to the investigation told the Daily Mail recently.
But the ticket isn’t all that’s missing. The Gambling Commission report, obtained this week by the Daily Mirror, contains 195 either partly or fully blacked out pages, while another 79 pages have been removed entirely.
Deputy opposition leader Tom Watson said the public have a right to know what was redacted and why because public confidence in the lottery is at stake.
“It seems the Great Lotto Robbery is in danger of turning into the Great Lotto Cover-up,” he said. “Whilst the Gambling Commission have taken action against Camelot for its failure, the public will rightly want to see further action taken by authorities in order to recoup the money fraudulently taken.
“…we need full disclosure of facts, the sequence of events and the failures to make sure something like this can never happen again,” he added. “Pages of redacted evidence are not good enough.”
Was There an Inside Man?
One question that remains unanswered is whether Putman had help from a member of Camelot’s fraud detection department, as has been claimed by Daily Mirror sources.
It has been alleged that Giles Knibbs, an IT specialist working for Camelot at the time, may have provided Putnam with inside information, such as where the ticket had been purchased, which allowed him to perpetrate the alleged fraud,
According to the newspaper’s sources, Knibbs was promised a split of the money but he and Putman subsequently fell out.
Camelot appears to be have been unaware of the possible fraud until 2015 when it received the information from an unnamed whistle-blower, who may or may not have been Knibbs.
A subsequent police investigation ultimately concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a case against Putman, who allegedly told police he was being blackmailed by Knibbs.
Tragically, Knibbs committed suicide just days before he was due to appear in court.