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Thu, 18 July 2024

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By Ben Guerin
Press releases

Conservative Party Withdraws Support For Betting Scandal Candidates

3 min read

The Conservative Party has withdrawn its support for one of Rishi Sunak's closest allies, Craig Williams, who placed a bet on the date of the election, while the Labour Party has also suspended a candidate who is being investigated over alleged gambling.

Tory candidates Craig William and Laura Saunders have been dropped as the candidates for  Montgomeryshire and Glyndŵr in Wales and Bristol North West in England, after they were both placed under investigation by the Gambling Commission, the party said on Tuesday. The decision was taken by the party 10 days since it was first reported that Williams was being investigated.

Later on Tuesday, the Labour Party also confirmed they have withdrawn support for Kevin Craig, their candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, after it emerged he is being investigated for placing a bet on the outcome of his own constituency. He reportedly placed a bet on himself losing the seat – which was previously held by Dan Poulter, who defected from the Conservatives to Labour ahead of the election.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "As a result of ongoing internal enquiries, 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."

A spokeswoman for Labour said the party had "acted immediately" to administratively suspend Craig pending an investigation.

“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," she said.

Despite being suspended from central office, Williams confirmed on Tuesday afternoon he would still run as an MP. "I remain on the ballot paper on the 4th of July, and I hope to secure your support after years of delivery," he said.  

Williams, who is running to be re-elected as the MP for Montgomeryshire, has apologised for placing his £100 bet on the election date and described it as a "huge error of judgement". He has refused to say whether he had inside information prior to making the bet. 

As Sunak's parliamentary private secretary, Williams is seen as one of the Prime Minister's closest allies in politics.

He will still run as the Conservative candidate in the Welsh seat on 4 July because it is too late to change the wording on the ballot paper. But the party will now not provide him with funds to fight his seat. 

Williams is defending a 12,138 majority and according to recent polling is slightly favoured to see off the challenge of Labour. 

It is not known how much money Saunders placed on the date of the General Election. She has worked for the party since 2015 and is married to Conservative Party's director of campaigns, Tony Lee. 

It is against the law to gamble on something you have inside knowledge of. 

Illegal Migration minisiter Michael Tomlinson, Conservative candidate Mid Dorset and North Poole, this morning told Sky News he wanted to see the issue dealt with as "swiftly" as possible. 

“I want this to happen as quickly as possible. I want it to happen swiftly. And I want anyone who is found to have broken the rules, to have broken the law, to be dealt with severely,” he said. 

The Lib Dems have urged Prime Minister Sunak to make it clear whether the pair would be given the Tory whip if elected to the House of Commons. 

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper said the investigation should have "happened immediately" when the "scandalous revelations emerged".

"Sunak must confirm immediately that these candidates will not have the Conservative whip if elected," she said. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer told told travelling reporters on the campaign trail that the Tory party should have taken this action days ago. "Why didn't that happen a week ago?" said the man who is very likely to become Prime Minister next week.

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