Fourth Tory under investigation over alleged gambling on election timing

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A fourth Tory staffer is under investigation by the Gambling Commission for betting on the timing of the July general election, according to a party insider.

Nick Mason, the Conservatives’ chief data officer, has taken a leave of absence as the regulator probes his possible use of privileged information to bet on the vote, people close to the party said.

The betting scandal has rocked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative party as it battles to revive its struggling campaign with less than two weeks to go before the general election.

Sunak is facing severe criticism over his handling of the saga, as calls grow for him to suspend party figures who are being probed by the Gambling Commission.

Three Tory party members are already under investigation: Craig Williams, Sunak’s closest parliamentary aide; Laura Saunders, a party staffer; and her husband, Tory campaign director Tony Lee.

Of those, Williams and Saunders are still standing as candidates in the election.

An unnamed police officer working as part of Sunak’s protection team was also arrested last week over “alleged bets” made on the election.

Sunak said that he had been “incredibly angry” to learn of the 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,” he told the audience when asked about the matter.

Michael Gove said that the scandal was “sucking the oxygen out of the campaign” and that “a few individuals end up creating an incredibly damaging atmosphere for the party”.

“It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us,” he told the Sunday Times. “The perception that we operate outside the rules that we set for others. That was damaging at the time of Partygate and is damaging here.”

The investigation into Mason, which was first reported by the Sunday Times, is the latest in a series of gaffes that have rattled the Conservatives’ campaign ever since Sunak called the election in the rain on May 22.

One of the most damaging was the prime minister’s decision to leave D-Day anniversary celebrations in France early to attend a broadcast interview, a decision for which he was forced to profusely apologise.

Asked about the gambling regulator’s investigation into Mason, a Conservative party spokesperson said: “As instructed by the Gambling Commission, we are not permitted to discuss any matters related to any investigation with the subject or any other persons.” 


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