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Friday July 19, 2024

Sunak faces call for election date betting probe

By AFP
June 21, 2024
Britains Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader, Rishi Sunak speaks to farmers following a Q A event in Barnstaple, south west England, on June 18, 2024. — AFP
Britain's Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader, Rishi Sunak speaks to farmers following a Q A event in Barnstaple, south west England, on June 18, 2024. — AFP 

LONDON: The campaign director for Rishi Sunak´s ruling Conservatives has stepped aside following reports that he and his wife were under investigation for allegedly betting on the UK general election date.

Conservative Campaign Headquarters on Thursday said that Tony Lee “took a leave of absence” on Wednesday, and the Gambling Commission was looking into “a number of individuals”. 

The regulator made no mention of identities but the BBC reported that Lee and his wife Laura Saunders, who is standing as a candidate in the July 4 poll, were under investigation.

The commission is also looking at claims that another would-be MP, Craig Williams, who served as Sunak´s ministerial aide, made a £100 ($127) stake on the date before it was called.

London´s Metropolitan Police (the Met) has also said one of Sunak´s security detail -- a police officer -- was arrested for allegedly placing a bet on the date of the poll.

Political bets are allowed in the UK, including on the date of the election, but using insider knowledge to do so is against the law.

The formal inquiry heaps further misery on Sunak, whose party has trailed Labour by about 20 points in the polls for nearly two years, making it likely that it will be dumped out of office after 14 years in power.

On the campaign trail, senior minister Michael Gove admitted to reporters that the situation “doesn´t look great”, even if he could not comment on the specifics.