Scottish secretary denies rulebreaking amid claims of £2,000 win on election bets

Alister Jack said he did not make any bets in May, the period being investigated by the Gambling Commission.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack denies breaking rules amid claims of £2,000 win on election bets Getty Images
Key Points
  • The Gambling Commission is investigating alleged use of inside information to bet on the timing of the July 4 election
  • Scottish secretary Alister Jack said he made three wagers but none were in May – the period being investigated
  • He had claimed to have won more than £2,000 by betting on the timing of the General Election – but is later reported to have said this was a joke
  • Rishi Sunak has pulled support from two Tory candidates amid allegations
  • Scotland Yard said five more officers – in addition to one of Sunak’s bodguards – are alleged to have placed bets

A Conservative government minister has denied breaking gambling rules amid claims he made a £2,000 profit on election bets.

Scottish secretary Alister Jack said he put three wagers on the timing of the poll, as the Gambling Commission continues its investigations into officials betting on the date of the general election.

But Jack told STV News that he had not broken any Gambling Commission rules “on any occasion”, and specifically did not make any bets in May – the period being investigated by the regulator.

Jack said he had in April put £20 at odds of five to one on an election being held between July and September, but that he had no knowledge of when it would be called until the day that Rishi Sunak fired the starting gun on May 22.

“Furthermore, I am not aware of any family or friends placing bets,” Jack said.

“And for the avoidance of doubt that based on my comment above the Gambling Commission have obviously not contacted me.”

Jack said that he placed two unsuccessful £5 bets on the date of the election in March for a vote to be held in May and June respectively, and then made a third wager in April.

The Cabinet minister, who is not seeking re-election, told the BBC he had won more than £2,000 by betting on the timing of the General Election.

He is also reported to have told the broadcaster his original comments were “a joke … I was pulling your leg”.

The minister is the latest figure to have become embroiled in the controversy over alleged betting on the timing of the election after Rishi Sunak pulled support from two Tory candidates amid the Gambling Commission investigation.

Because nominations have closed, Craig Williams, who is standing in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, and Laura Saunders, who is standing in Bristol North West, will still appear on the ballot paper.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “As a result of ongoing internal inquiries, we have concluded that we can no longer support Craig Williams or Laura Saunders as parliamentary candidates at the forthcoming General Election.

“We have checked with the Gambling Commission that this decision does not compromise the investigation that they are conducting, which is rightly independent and ongoing.”

Williams, who was the Prime Minister’s senior parliamentary aide, said he had “committed an error of judgment, not an offence” and intended to “clear my name”.

Labour also suspended its candidate Kevin Craig, who is facing a separate probe after he placed a wager on himself losing the contest for the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency to the Conservatives.

And Welsh Conservative member of the Senedd, Russell George, stepped back from the shadow cabinet on Tuesday as it emerged he was facing a probe over alleged betting on the timing of the July 4 poll.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard said five more officers – in addition to a member of Sunak’s protection team who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of misconduct in a public office – were alleged to have placed bets.

The officers are based on the Royalty and Specialist Command, the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command and the Central West Basic Command Unit, but none of them work in a close protection role.

A Met Police spokesman said: “It is still the case that only one officer is under criminal investigation.

“We have, however, been passed information from the Gambling Commission alleging that five further officers have placed bets related to the timing of the election.

“The Gambling Commission continues to investigate these matters. The officers have not been arrested but the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards has been informed.”

Decisions on whether the five officers will be subject to any restrictions will be taken in due course, the Met said.

As well as the parliamentary candidates, two senior Tory officials have taken a leave of absence at a crucial point in the election campaign, after being drawn into the Gambling Commission investigation.

Ms Saunders’ husband, Tony Lee, the party’s director of campaigning, and chief data officer, Nick Mason, have stepped back from their duties.

Labour administratively suspended Central Suffolk and North Ipswich candidate Mr Craig after it emerged he was facing a Gambling Commission investigation.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “With Keir Starmer as leader, the Labour party upholds the highest standards for our parliamentary candidates, as the public rightly expects from any party hoping to serve, which is why we have acted immediately in this case.”

Mr Craig said he “deeply” regretted putting “a bet on the Tories to win here” but said it was done “with the intention of giving any winnings to local charities”.

“I will comply fully with the investigation,” he added.

The SNP said that Jack had a “duty to come forward with the full details”.

The party’s Scotland spokesman Tommy Sheppard said: “The Tories have already suspended two candidates over this gambling scandal, so revelations that Alister Jack has pocketed over £2,000 betting on the date of the General Election raises a number of very serious questions.

“As a senior cabinet member in the Tory government, and a well-known confidant of Sunak, Jack is obviously in the loop when it comes to Conservative Party planning.”

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