`Lucky' BT pair fight dismissal

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The Independent Online
Two British Telecom employees who were sacked after beating 30 million other callers to win pounds 10 tickets on Concorde in a British Airways offer are to take BT to an industrial tribunal.

Neville Secular and Dean Perry, who worked in the same London office, lodged a claim this week against BT alleging unfair dismissal. They were sacked in March after the company carried out an internal inquiry following a public outcry.

The pair worked in the Data Build computer department, the nerve centre of the telephone system.

The chances of them both winning seats on the Valentine's Day flight to New York, allocated by a phone-in competition, were estimated at 25,600 million to one.

At the time, BT said there was no evidence of fraud. But yesterday the company said the two men had "abused their position to gain advantage".

It refused to comment further, but the clear implication is that they used insider knowledge to circumvent the filter system designed to let only a specified number of calls reach the office that allocated tickets.

The BA offer for the 190 pounds 10 return tickets was massively over-subscribed. Twenty million calls were logged in 25 minutes.

Mr Secular and Mr Perry have insisted that their success was pure coincidence, saying they decided separately to try their luck on the 0345 number before going into the office.