Gambling watchdog looks into Conservative campaign director over alleged election bet

The Conservative Party’s director of campaigning is being looked into by the Gambling Commission over an alleged bet relating to the timing of the general election, according to a BBC report. 

Tony Lee is married to a Conservative candidate who is also being looked into by the betting industry regulator.

It was revealed on Wednesday that Laura Saunders, the party’s candidate in Bristol North West, is being looked into by the Gambling Commission over a bet relating to the timing of the general election. 

Saunders has worked for the Conservatives since 2015. She is married to Tony Lee.

The BBC is reporting that Lee took a leave of absence from his job on Wednesday afternoon.

Sunak announced 4th July as the date of the general election on 22nd May, taking much of Westminster by surprise.

It is not currently known when the bet Saunders placed was made or for how much money. Nor is it known when Lee placed a bet and for how much money.

The Conservative Party said earlier in a statement to 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.”

This story follows the 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.

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

Williams, like Laura Saunders, is a Conservative candidate in the general election on 4 July.

It has also been reported that a close protection officer for the prime minister has been suspended by the Metropolitan Police and is being investigated under similar circumstances.

According to reports, the Met was contacted by the Gambling Commission on 14 June over an investigation into 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.”

Following the revelations about the police officer, the Liberal Democrats have called for a wider inquiry.

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.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website. Subscribe to our daily newsletter for all the latest election news and analysis.