Betting scandal as bad for Tories as Partygate, Michael Gove warns

23 June 2024, 09:24

Michael Gove
Michael Gove. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Michael Gove has warned that the ongoing betting scandal is as bad for the Tories as Partygate.

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A number of senior Tories are being investigated over alleged bets that were placed on the date of the election.

This includes Nick Mason, the Conservative Party's chief data officer, who denies any wrongdoing.

It also includes Tony Lee, the Conservative Director of Campaigns, and his wife and Conservative candidate Laura Saunders.

Mr Gove, who will not stand in the General Election, told the Sunday Times: “It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us – the perception that we operate outside the rules that we set for others.

“That was damaging at the time of Partygate and is damaging here.”

Michael Gove is not standing in the election
Michael Gove is not standing in the election. Picture: Getty

Mr Gove continued: “You are, in effect, securing an advantage against other people who are betting entirely fairly and without that knowledge.

“So if these allegations are true, it’s very difficult to defend.”

Read More: Another top Tory official investigated over 'dozens of bets placed on election' but denies wrongdoing

Read More: Gove says election bets are ‘betrayal of Prime Minister’s trust’ as second Tory candidate investigated by regulator

In addition to Mason, Lee and Saunders, Craig Williams, a senior aide to Rishi Sunak and Conservative candidate, is also being investigated by the Gambling Commission.

Williams has apologised for having a “flutter” on the election.

Saunders said she "will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission", while Lee has taken "a leave of absence" amid investigations into the alleged bets.

The Conservatives' chief data officer investigated by the Gambling Commission

Earlier this week, Mr Gove told LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that the investigations were ‘beyond embarrassing’ for the Conservative party.

Asked about how the inquiries reflected on the parties, Mr Gove said: “It’s beyond embarrassing, it’s wrong - it’s also the principle here.

“It’s not just a betrayal of trust in the Prime Minister, which is very bad, it also means that other punters are losing out because of insider information and that means the system isn’t operating fairly.”

He added: “It’s beyond bad to use information like that to secure an advantage.”

A Conservative spokesman said of the inquiry: “We have been contacted by the Gambling Commission about a small number of individuals.

“As the Gambling Commission is an independent body, it wouldn’t be proper to comment further, until any process is concluded.”

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