Sunak says he's not being investigated in Tory betting scandal and is 'unaware of other candidates being looked at'

24 June 2024, 12:25 | Updated: 24 June 2024, 13:38

Rishi Sunak has said he is not aware of any other candidates being investigated in the Conservative gambling scandal
Rishi Sunak has said he is not aware of any other candidates being investigated in the Conservative gambling scandal. Picture: Alamy/Getty/Laura Saunders

By Kit Heren

Rishi Sunak has said he is not being investigated as part of the probe into the Conservatives' election gambling scandal.

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Mr Sunak also said that he was unaware of any other Conservative candidates who were under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

The Prime Minister added that the Conservatives were running their own internal investigation into the scandal in which several people linked to the party are accused of placing bets on the date of the election. He said he had never placed a bet on politics.

Mr Sunak added: "The Gambling Commission is independent of Government – it's independent of me.

"I don't have the details of their investigation, right? They don't report to me, I don't have the details, but what I can tell you is, in parallel we've been conducting our own internal inquiries and of course will act on any relevant findings or information from that and pass it on to the Gambling Commission."

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

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Picture: Alamy

It comes after it emerged that the commission had 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.

Others 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.

Labour said that Mr Sunak had shown an "astonishing lack of leadership" by failing to suspend Conservatives under investigation.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: "When wrong doing takes place in Labour, candidates are suspended. That is not an easy thing to do but it is the right thing to do."

She told reporters: "It is an astonishing lack of leadership from Rishi Sunak that these candidates are still in place, they have still got the Conservative rosette.

"Rishi Sunak is now so weak he is not even able to suspend people who are accused of profiteering from inside information. It is frankly one rule for Conservative candidates and staffers and another rule for everybody else."

She added: "In the end voters will judge the Conservatives on their 14 years and sleaze, the abuse of public office, is quite high in people's minds. It is one of the reasons why people want change after 14 years of chaos and decline".

Craig Williams
Craig Williams. Picture: Getty

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.

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

The Conservatives' chief data officer investigated by the Gambling Commission

Meanwhilek 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 on Sunday, the Home Secretary admitted that the ongoing betting scandal is “frustrating” but has denied calls for Rishi Sunak to suspend those being investigated.

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.”