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A senior Conservative Party lawmaker said Thursday it would be “reprehensible” for someone to use inside information to bet on Britain’s national election amid growing allegations that politicians or people close to them used their positions to profit on the vote.

Asked Thursday about reports that the U.K.’s Gambling Commission was investigating a second Conservative candidate for placing a bet on the timing of the election, Michael Gove told the BBC that if people used inside information to bet, it would be “deeply wrong.”

“What I can’t do is sort of get too much into the detail of the case while an investigation is going on,″ Gove said. “But I can talk about the broad principle and you’re absolutely right, it’s reprehensible.”


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced May 22 that parliamentary elections would be held on July 4. The date had been a closely guarded secret and many, even those in Sunak’s governing Conservative Party, were taken by surprise as a vote had been expected in the fall.

British media including the PA news agency and the BBC reported Thursday that Tory candidate Laura Saunders, who is married to the Conservative Party’s director of campaigning, Tony Lee, is facing a commission investigation into alleged betting offences.

UK flag, Parliamentary house in London

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 29: The time 12:20pm shows on Big Ben on March 29, 2017 in London, England. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Saunders’ attorney, Nama Zarroug, of Astraea Linskills, said she would be co-operating with the commission investigation and that she had nothing further to add.

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

“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,” it added.

The Conservative Party said Britain’s Gambling Commission contacted it over a “small number of individuals″ in connection with the investigation.

The party declined to immediately comment on the fresh allegation pending the commission investigation. But it said in a statement that Lee took a leave of absence from the party on Wednesday.

The broadening scandal came after reports Wednesday that one of Sunak’s police bodyguards was arrested over alleged bets on the date of Britain’s national election made before it was announced. The constable in the Royalty and Specialist Protection Command was arrested Monday on suspicion of misconduct in public office, the Metropolitan Police force said.

Last week, Sunak aide Craig Williams, who is running to be reelected to Parliament, acknowledged he was being investigated by the Gambling Commission for placing a 100 pound ($128) bet on a July election before the date had been announced.


Betting is popular in the U.K., with bookies offering odds on everything from sports to elections. Cheating by acting on inside information is a criminal offense.

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