Branson's lottery rival had dollar signs in eyes, says QC

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If ever a man had "dollar signs flashing in front of his eyes" it was GTech chief Guy Snowden, the High Court in London was told yesterday. Richard Branson's QC, George Carman, made the attack during his closing speech in the Virgin entrepreneur's two-way libel action over an alleged bribe attempt in the run-up to the National Lottery franchise contest.

Mr Carman said that in no fewer than six libels, all circulated nationally in 1995, and all the subject of the GTech publicity machine, Mr Branson was described as a liar who had behaved outrageously and contemptibly.

Mr Branson is suing GTech - which owns 22.5 per cent of lottery licence holders Camelot - and Mr Snowden over claims that he accused them of attempting to bribe him to withdraw his rival bid in September 1993, when he knew there was insufficient evidence to support the allegation. In a counter- action, Mr Snowden, 52, is suing Mr Branson for making the allegation in a BBC1 Panorama programme in December 1995.