Newly-released government documents show aides were worried about the prospect of former prime minister John Major winning the first National Lottery draw in 1994.

It is one of the revelations from the latest batch of previously secret government documents made public by The National Archives.

Here are some of the highlights:

It could be the PM

It is 25 years since the National Lottery was launched and documents from 1994 reveal Downing Street’s fear that then prime minister, John Major, might win.

Mr Major bought a ticket once they went on sale to promote the launch, prompting Whitehall officials to insist that if he were to win, the proceeds would go to charity.

The odds on Mr Major taking even a three-figure sum, never mind the jackpot, were estimated at more than 55,000 to one.

White House chaos

Bill Clinton’s White House was chaotic and having fits over a series of scandals, Britain’s US ambassador wrote in a memo ahead of the US president’s UK visit in 1994.

Robin Renwick described Mr Clinton as preoccupied with his coverage in the media after a roller-coaster time in office.

The White House was having fits at the idea Mr Clinton may have to give evidence in court over the case of Paula Jones, an Arkansas state employee who had accused him of sexual harassment.

It was one of several personal scandals that have taken their toll on Clinton’s popularity, Mr Renwick wrote.

Boris’ beef

No one likes hanging on the telephone and for Russian leader Boris Yeltsin, it was enough to provoke an international incident.

Private internal correspondence between Downing Street officials reveal that a furious Mr Yeltsin was left on hold for 90 minutes while White House staff sought desperately to find President Clinton.

Apparently the Russians misunderstood all the preliminary soundings the US operations room do, and put Yeltsin on the line [long before it was necessary]. Panic at the US end, no sign of Clinton, it said.

Yeltsin kept waiting for one-and-a-half hours before he gave up. V p***** off. Hence refusal to take call from Clinton for next couple of days.

The Manchester Olympics

Where would you rather go – Manchester or Sydney?

In the post-mortem examination of Manchester’s failed bid to host the 2000 Olympics, Downing Street aide and future first secretary of state, Damian Green, was clear.

He said: The reason for Manchester’s failure is the obvious of one: that no-one in their right mind would spend three weeks in Manchester rather than Sydney. It is hard to imagine Manchester ever being successful.

Then-prime minister, John Major, at least, was ready for victory, preparing a speech celebrating Manchester’s victory, in which he praised Britain’s world-beating success.

Defeat meant Mr Major’s victory speech was never heard in public, but the city did win the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2002.


John Major felt his government was not doing enough to stop the widespread and growing availability of pornography and violent videos and worried the public would blame the government for not doing enough to combat it.

One idea he floated was to abolish the idea of the 9pm watershed, which he felt was becoming obsolescent in the age of time-shifting video recording.

He was not convinced by arguments that this was just a matter of personal responsibility, a policy document said.

One file notes the emerging popularity of satellite and cable television channels which did not observe the terrestrial watershed and showed progressively more violent programmes through the evening.

The bunker

The government built an underground bunker in remote countryside to keep the cabinet safe in the event of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union in the 1960s.

Code-named Turnstile, the government war headquarters, in Wiltshire, included a telecoms unit, storage depots and a communications centre.

Only a handful of top-ranking officials knew of its existence, while senior government press officers were issued with strict cover stories on how to deceive Fleet Street reporters.

(c) Sky News 2019: National Archives: Released papers reveal No 10 ‘feared John Major winning first lottery’