Second Tory candidate faces gambling investigation into election bets

Two Tory candidates are being investigated alongside one of the Prime Minister's protection officers.

Second Tory candidate faces gambling investigation into general election bets Getty Images

It would be “reprehensible” to use inside information to bet on the General Election date, Michael Gove said as three people with links to the Tories or Downing Street faced investigation.

Tory candidate Laura Saunders, who previously worked at Conservative Campaign HQ, is facing a Gambling Commission investigation into alleged betting offences.

News of that investigation followed the arrest of one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s police protection officers and a Gambling Commission investigation into his parliamentary aide Craig Williams over betting allegations.

Housing secretary Gove told the BBC: “If people have used inside information to place bets, that is deeply wrong.

“What I can’t do is sort of get too much into the detail of the case while an investigation is going on.

“But I can talk about the broad principle and you’re absolutely right, it’s reprehensible.”

In response to the latest allegations about Bristol North West candidate Saunders, a Conservative spokesman said: “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.”

Michael Gove said it was 'wrong' for people to use inside information on bets.Getty Images

Saunders was the head of the international department at the Conservative Party, working with London embassies and the Tories’ sister parties overseas.

She had previously worked on organising campaign visits in the 2017 and 2019 elections.

On Wednesday the Metropolitan Police said they were informed by the Gambling Commission that a police constable from the force’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Command was being investigated over the alleged bets.

It emerged last week that Williams, who served as Sunak’s parliamentary private secretary and is the Conservative candidate for Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, was under investigation after he “put a flutter” on when the election would take place.

Liberal Democrats deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “Rishi Sunak must call a Cabinet Office inquiry into what is shaping up to be yet another scandal at the heart of Government.

“This stinks of yet more sleaze and answers are needed. An inquiry is needed to understand who knew what and when.”

The police officer, who has been removed from operational duties, was bailed pending further inquiries after they were taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.

The matter has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which said it will “make a decision on the level of IOPC involvement in due course”.

The Gambling Commission said in response to the officer’s arrest: “Currently the commission is investigating the possibility of offences concerning the date of the election.

“This is an ongoing investigation, and the commission cannot provide any further details at this time.”

Sunak previously said it was “very disappointing” that Williams had allegedly placed a bet on the date of the General Election.

Williams, who was the Tory MP for Montgomery until the election was called, is alleged to have placed a £100 bet on a July polling day some three days before Sunak named the date as July 4, at a Ladbrokes in his constituency.

He previously said he had clearly made a “huge error of judgment” but refused to say whether he placed a bet on the basis of insider information.

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