Tory campaign official looked into over alleged election bet

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[Reuters]

The Conservative Party’s director of campaigning Tony Lee is also being looked into by the Gambling Commission over an alleged bet relating to the timing of the general election, the BBC can reveal.

The BBC reported earlier that Mr Lee – who took a leave of absence from his job on Wednesday afternoon – is married to a Conservative candidate who is being looked into by the betting industry regulator.

Laura Saunders, the party’s candidate in Bristol North West, has worked for the Tories since 2015 and is married to Mr Lee.

It is not known when either individual placed a bet or, if either did, for how much money.

Laura Saunders and Tony Lee have been approached for comment by the BBC and have not replied.

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.”

A spokesperson for the Gambling Commission said: “The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the interests of consumers and the wider public.

"Currently the Commission is investigating the possibility of offences concerning the date of the election. This is an ongoing investigation, and the Commission cannot provide any further details at this time.

"We are not confirming or denying the identity of any individuals involved in this investigation."

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[BBC]

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

Last week it was alleged that one of Rishi Sunak’s closest aides, Craig Williams, placed a £100 bet on a July polling day three days before the PM named the date .

Mr Williams, who was the Tory MP for Montgomery until the election was called and is standing again in the new constituency of Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, previously apologised and said he made a "huge error of judgement".

When asked by the BBC, he refused to say whether he placed a bet on the basis of inside information.

On Wednesday it also emerged that a police officer working as part of the prime minister’s close protection team had been arrested following an allegation of bets on the timing of the election.

The officer was initially suspended by the Metropolitan Police and then arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office.

The individual has been bailed pending further inquiries.

The Met was contacted by the Gambling Commission last Friday, which informed the force that it was investigating alleged bets made by a police constable from the Met's Royalty and Specialist Protection Command.

You can find a full list of candidates for the Bristol North West and Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr constituencies on the BBC News website.