Thursday, July 25, 2024

Top Tory refuses to rule out more names emerging in election gambling scandal

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Tory Welsh Secretary David TC Davies said he has ‘absolutely no idea’ if more names will emerge in the Gambling Commission probe over election date bets

Tory minister denies being part of ongoing betting scandal

A Tory minister has refused to rule out more Conservatives being dragged into the betting scandal.

David TC Davies said he had “absolutely no idea” if more names will emerge in a Gambling Commission probe. It comes as pressure piled on Rishi Sunak to kick out those accused of placing bets on the timing of the General Election.

Welsh Secretary Mr Davies went as far as denying he’d placed any bets. He told Sky News when asked if others will be dragged in: “I have absolutely no idea, none whatsoever, the news of those two was a complete surprise to me.

“I just want to put on record that I certainly haven’t bet myself, I haven’t made any bets on anything for many years, I didn’t know the election was coming until probably the morning, I had an inclination, I wasn’t absolutely certain even then, and I’ve no idea who – if anyone – has placed any bets and what further investigation is going on.”

David TC Davies said he has no idea if more people will be dragged in

Candidate Laura Saunders is being probed along with husband Tony Lee, who quit as the party’s campaigning chief, and Mr Sunak’s aide Craig Williams. A member of the PM’s police protection team has also been arrested, bailed and suspended on suspicion of ­misconduct in public office for ­allegedly betting on the poll date.

And a flurry of bets was placed on a July 4 poll date, days before it was revealed. A Tory spokesman said party officials had heard from the Gambling Commission “about a small number of individuals”.

Mr Sunak claimed he was “extremely angry” about allegations of improper betting as he was confronted on live TV last night. A Question Time audience member demanded: “Aren’t these emerging allegations about betting on the election date, the absolute epitome of the lack of ethics that we have had to tolerate from the Conservative Party for years and years?”

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to suspend two candidates(Getty Images)

The PM responded: “Well, like you, I was incredibly angry, incredibly angry to learn of these allegations. It’s a really serious matter. It’s right that they’re being investigated properly by the relevant law enforcement authorities, including a criminal investigation by the police.

“And I want to be crystal clear that if anyone has broken the rules, they should face the full force of the law.” Pressed why candidates hadn’t been booted out of the party he said: “If anyone is found to have broken the rules, not only should they face the full consequences of the law, I will make sure that they are booted out of the Conservative Party.”

Labour and the Lib Dems have called on the Tories to suspend both Ms Saunders and Mr Williams, who is standing in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr. Keir Starmer said if a Labour candidate was caught up in a similar row “their feet wouldn’t touch the ground” on the way out.

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