Conservatives withdraw support for two candidates over election day betting scandal 

News Westminster

The Conservative Party has withdrawn support from two candidates currently under investigation for allegedly betting on the general election date. 

The Gambling Commission is currently investigating Craig Williams, running in Montgomeryshire and Glyndŵr, and Laura Saunders, contesting Bristol North West. Despite this, they will remain on the ballot as Conservative candidates but will become independents if elected, pending the investigation’s outcome.

Additionally, Mr Williams posted a video on X saying he “committed an error of judgment, not an offence”. He added: “I want to reiterate my apology directly to you. I am fully cooperating with routine inquiries from the Gambling Commission and I intend to clear my name. In all these things, due process is important and that is what sets the UK apart from other countries, and the commission must be allowed to do its work.”

A spokesperson for Ms Saunders said she would be cooperating with the Gambling Commission. 

The Met Police said that the Gambling Commission is also looking into allegations against five additional officers, following the arrest of a close protection officer for the Prime Minister. Rishi Sunak expressed his “incredible anger” over these allegations and denied knowledge of any other implicated candidates.

Two Conservative staff members have taken leaves of absence after it was revealed they are also under investigation by the Gambling Commission. 

Additionally, a police officer assigned to Mr Sunak’s protection has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office and is now on restricted duties with the Royalty and Specialist Protection Command.

A Met Police spokesperson confirmed that one officer is under criminal investigation and information from the Gambling Commission suggests five more officers placed bets on the election date. 

These officers, from the Royalty and Specialist Command, the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command, and the Central West Basic Command Unit, have not been arrested but are being reviewed by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards. None are involved in close protection roles, and decisions on any restrictions will be made in due course.

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.”

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