'I lost nearly £1k over Tory election betting scandal - it sticks in my throat'

Peter Spurgeon is set to lose hundreds of pounds after a Betfair Exchange flutter on the election date
-Credit: (Image: Peter Spurgeon)

A punter who is set to lose more than £800 on an election date says it will “stick in the throat” if Tories are found to have cheated.

Peter Spurgeon faces a huge financial hit after an online exchange bet went wrong and believes something isn't right.

The 44-year-old He offered up odds of 5.2 on a July election, thinking the UK wouldn't go to the polls until the autumn but 48 hours later - the day before Rishi Sunak announced the snap poll - a mysterious £200 bet was placed on Betfair Exchange.

At the time he thought little of it, but now suspects there is something "iffy" after the Tory betting scandal came to light.

Speaking to the Mirror he said: "Any bet you place can be a loser, no matter how confident you are.

"But it's a completely different ball game if someone is betting with 100% confidence that their bet is going to be a winner."

A total of five Tory figures so far are being probed by the Gambling Commission after allegedly placing wagers on a July election.

But the BBC has reported as many as 15 Conservative candidates and officials are also being looked at. Spurgeon says he can afford to pay up and knew the risks, but has a feeling something isn't right.

He explained: "At the end of the day if it's investigated and it turns out that it's an ordinary punter who struck a large speculative bet and won, I wouldn't have any moans at all. But if it turns out that it's a person with a connection to the Tories, like an MP or someone close to a politician, I'd be very unhappy indeed."

Exchange bets allow punters to set their odds and see if others place bets. Normally, Mr Spurgeon said, he would expect several smaller bets of £10 or £20, rather than someone offering the full £200 limit he was prepared to stake.

He said: "I'd say the fact that someone bet the full £200 the day before the election was called does stick in the throat. I had an inkling that it may have been a suspicious bet because there wasn't any speculation and it was such a big bet."

Soggy Rishi Sunak called the General Election on May 22
Soggy Rishi Sunak called the General Election on May 22 -Credit:PA

Mr Spurgeon, who lives in Merseyside, placed the bet on May 19, and it was matched at 2.50pm on May 21 by a mysterious punter.

Just over 24 hours later, Mr Sunak stood outside in the pouring rain and announced the long-awaited general election would take place on July 4.

Mr Spurgeon has no idea who matched his bet but said it needs to be looked at.

He added: "There will be dozens of people in the same position," he said. "I had no inkling that there was going to be a General Election called, and I don't think anyone in the general public had an inkling either.

"It may be a dodgy situation, but I have no way of finding out who's on the other end of the bet." And he continued: "There's going to be potentially dozens of people in the same boat as me, so I hope there will be a thorough investigation." If it turns out that such bets were placed by people with links to inside information, he said, they should be voided.

"I've placed lots of political bets over the years, it's something I do as a sideline which I've had some success with. I only stake money that I can afford to lose, and I would urge others to do the same."

The mysterious bet was placed the day before Mr Sunak called the election
The mysterious bet was placed the day before Mr Sunak called the election -Credit:Peter Spurgeon

Mr Spurgeon has contacted the Gambling Commission and Betfair to look into the wager. The Mirror has contacted both for comment.

At least five Conservatives are being investigated by the Gambling Commission as part of its inquiry into wagers on the timing of the July 4 poll.

On Tuesday Cabinet minister Alister Jack has admitted placing bets on the election date, but these were placed before May - the period the watchdog is looking at.

The Tories finally pulled support from two candidates - Craig Williams, who was a parliamentary aide to Rishi Sunak, and Laura Saunders - over bets on the timing of the election.

Ms Saunders' husband, the Conservative Party's director of campaigning Tony Lee, has taken a leave of absence, as has Tory chief data officer Nick Mason.

In the Welsh Parliament, Conservative Russell George stepped back from the shadow cabinet after it emerged he was facing a probe by the gambling watchdog.

And one of Mr Sunak's police protection officers was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office after information was passed to the Met Police by the Commission.

A further five officers, including members of the Royalty and Specialist Command and Parliamentary and Diplomatic Command, are being investigated by the watchdog.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said there should be a debate about political betting but "I would just say that people shouldn't do it".

Mr Stride, a close ally of the PM, told Times Radio: "My personal view, I would just say that people shouldn't do it, but I think we should have a debate about it more broadly.

"But let me be very, very clear: by saying that, I totally recognise that using inside information, as may have been the case for certain individuals in this way, is utterly wrong."

Mr Stride continued: "I don't know what the number is, what the number may or may not end up as, or indeed which parties may be involved, because we have obviously just heard that a Labour candidate has apparently betted against himself in the constituency in which he is standing and has been suspended as a consequence."

It came after the BBC reported that Mr Jack had claimed he made more than £2,000 from betting on the date, but later dismissed the comments as a "joke". He said that in March, he placed two unsuccessful bets of £5 on the vote being held in May and June respectively, then made the third wager in April.

Mr Jack added: "As I have said previously, I placed no bets in May and am not under investigation by the Gambling Commission." A Gambling Commission spokesman said the investigation into bets on the timing of the election was "ongoing" and it "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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