Tory betting scandal grows as second candidate linked to Sunak’s inner circle faces questions over election date gambling

The Gambling Commission is investigating a second Tory candidate for taking a bet on the date of the election who may have had inside knowledge ahead of Rishi Sunak’s surprise announcement, the BBC has reported.

The candidate understood to be under investigation is Laura Saunders, who is runnig for the Tories in Bristol North West and has worked for the party since 2015. It was also revealed that she is married to Tony Lee, the Conservative Party’s director of campaigns.

This follows an admission by one of the prime minister’s closest aides Crag Williams that he “took a flutter” on the election date just days before it was announced.

It has led to concerns of corruption in Mr Sunak’s inner circle using inside knowledge to profit from betting.

Mr Williams, who was Mr sunak’s parliamentary private secretary, has since returned the money and apologised but is also under investigation from the Gambling Commisson.

But pressure is mounting for the Tories to take tougher action after it was reported a close protection officer for the prime minister was suspended by the Metropolitan Police and being investigated.

Ms Saunders has not commented on the allegation.

However, a Conservative Party spokesman told the BBC: “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.”

Following the revelations about the police officer, the Lib Dems said there needed to be a wider inquiry into what had happened.

Liberal Democrats deputy leader Daisy Cooper, responding to news of the police officer’s arrest, 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.”

It is understood that the Met was contacted by the Gambling Commision on 14 June to be told that it was investigating alleged bets made by a police constable from the Met’s Royalty and Specialist Protection Command.

The Met told the BBC: “The matter was immediately referred to officers in the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, who opened an investigation, and the officer was also removed from operational duties.”

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