Fourth official to be investigated in British election betting scandal

LONDON (AP) — The chief data officer of Britain's Conservative Party has taken a leave of absence, British media reported Sunday, amid mounting allegations that members of the ruling party used inside information to bluntly predict the date of the British general election on 4 July before it was announced.

The Sunday Times and other media reported that Nick Mason was the fourth Conservative official to be investigated by the UK Gambling Commission on suspicion of betting on the timing of the election.

The Times claimed that dozens of bets had been placed with potential winnings price 1000’s of kilos.

The reports got here after it emerged in recent days that two Conservative election candidates, Laura Saunders and Craig Williams, are being investigated by the Gambling Commission. Saunders' husband Tony Lee, the Conservative campaign manager, has also taken leave following allegations that he too was being investigated over alleged betting.

Police said one in all the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak The police bodyguard of was arrested on Monday on suspicion of abuse of office. The arrest got here after the gambling regulator confirmed that it was investigating “the possibility of violations related to the election date”.

The scandal, which comes just two weeks before the national election, has dealt a fresh blow to Sunak's Conservative Party, which after 14 years in power is widely expected to lose to the opposition Labour Party.

Sunak said this week that he was “incredibly offended” learned of the allegations and said that anyone who violated the law needs to be expelled from his party.

Sunak announced on 22 May that parliamentary elections The vote was scheduled to happen on July 4. The date was top secret and a surprise to many, as a vote in the autumn had been expected.

Saunders, a candidate from Bristol in southwest England, has said she’s going to fully cooperate with the investigation.

Williams was Sunak's parliamentary private secretary and an MP who stood for re-election on July 4. He has acknowledged that the Gambling Commission was investigating him for betting £100 ($128) on July elections before the poll date was announced.

Senior Conservative minister Michael Gove condemned the alleged bets and compared them to “ Partygate”, the ethics scandal that contributed to the downfall of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2022.

This controversy led to a drastic lack of public confidence within the Conservatives after it was revealed that politicians and officials had held parties and meetings in government buildings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, despite lockdown rules.

Daisy Cooper, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said “people are fed up with these bribes” and Sunak must step in and order an official investigation.

The Conservative Party said it couldn’t comment attributable to ongoing investigations.

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