Election betting scandal widens to include 'family and friends' of senior Tories

23 June 2024, 23:35 | Updated: 24 June 2024, 06:46

Election betting scandal widens to include 'family and friends' of senior Tories
Election betting scandal widens to include 'family and friends' of senior Tories. Picture: Getty

By Danielle de Wolfe

The gambling watchdog's probe into the elections betting scandal escalated today as their net widened to include 'family and friends' of senior Conservatives.

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The Gambling Commission has widened its investigation to include those associated with senior Tories linked to alleged bets placed on the date of the election.

Tory candidate, Craig Williams, admitted to having "a flutter", placing a £100 bet on a July election.

Booking giant Entain, the owner of high street betting shops Ladbrokes and Corals, is said to have then notified the commission.

Following the discovery, the commission then wrote to all UK gambling companies to request details of individuals who had placed bets exceeding £20 on the date of the election within days of Rishi Sunak making the announcement on 22 May.

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

The Conservatives' chief data officer investigated by the Gambling Commission

It also follows former Justice Secretary and Conservative candidate Robert Buckland splitting from the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary over the weekend, calling for those involved in the election betting scandal to be suspended.

Speaking to LBC this morning, the Home Secretary admitted that the ongoing betting scandal is “frustrating” but has denied calls for Rishi Sunak to suspend those being investigated.

Those accused of insider betting include 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.

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

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.”

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.

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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