Saturday, July 13, 2024

Tory candidate Laura Saunders will ‘co-operate’ with Gambling Commission probe

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A Conservative candidate who is facing a probe over allegedly betting on the timing of the General Election “will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission”, according to a solicitor’s statement.

Laura Saunders, who is standing in Bristol North West, is also “considering legal action against the BBC” and other outlets “who infringe her privacy rights”, after the broadcaster revealed she was being investigated by the watchdog.

She is one in a series of people with links to the Tory party or No 10 caught up in claims about gambling on the date of the July 4 contest.

With just two weeks until polling day, Rishi Sunak’s election campaign has been thrown into fresh turmoil over the allegations.

Ms Saunders’ husband, the Conservatives’ director of campaigning Tony Lee, took a leave of absence amid reports the couple are being looked into by the Gambling Commission.

In a statement released on Ms Saunders’ behalf, Nama Zarroug, a solicitor at Astraea Linskills, said: “As the Conservative Party has already stated, investigations are ongoing.

“Ms Saunders will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission and has nothing further to add.

“It is inappropriate to conduct any investigation of this kind via the media, and doing so risks jeopardising the work of the Gambling Commission and the integrity of its investigation.

“The publication of the BBC’s story is premature and is a clear infringement of Ms Saunders’ privacy rights. She is considering legal action against the BBC and any other publishers who infringe her privacy rights.”

News of the investigation into Ms Saunders emerged after the arrest of one of the Prime Minister’s police protection officers and the previous revelation of a Gambling Commission investigation into his parliamentary aide Craig Williams over betting allegations.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove admitted the situation “doesn’t look great” for the Tories.

A Conservative spokesman said: “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.”

The Gambling Commission said: “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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