UK’s Sunak Faces Call For Election Date Betting Probe

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UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced calls on Thursday to launch an inquiry after a member of his security detail was arrested for allegedly betting on the timing of the general election.

London’s Metropolitan Police said it was told by the Gambling Commission that a close protection officer was being investigated over the alleged bets.

The regulator had already been looking into claims that Conservative party candidate Craig Williams, who served as Sunak’s ministerial aide, placed a bet on when the election would be held.

A second candidate from Sunak’s party, Laura Saunders, is now also under investigation about an alleged bet on the date of the poll, the BBC reported on Wednesday evening.

Saunders is married to the Tories’ director of campaigns, Tony Lee. He “took a leave of absence from CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters) yesterday” (Wednesday), the party said.

CCHQ confirmed earlier that the Gambling Commission had contacted it about “a small number of individuals”, without commenting further.

Senior minister Michael Gove meanwhile told reporters on the campaign trail that the fact Saunders was facing an investigation “doesn’t look great”.

He said he could not comment on the specific allegations but earlier said the “broad principle” of using inside information to place bets was “reprehensible”.

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Labour leader Keir Starmer, tipped to succeed Sunak in Downing Street, called on the prime minister to withdraw his support for those allegedly involved.

“It’s astonishing that we’re in this place… The government, Rishi Sunak, just needs to take action. He needs to account for exactly who knew what,” he said.

Labour’s campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden separately wrote to Sunak and said the claims were “a pattern of behaviour” in the Tories focused on making “a quick profit”.

Ed Davey, who leads the smaller Liberal Democrats, said the allegations smacked of “corruption”. “It needs to have a heavy hand from the top,” he added.

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