Sunak must reveal who knew about election date amid gambling probes, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer described the most recent reports as 'astonishing' - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer described the most recent reports as 'astonishing' - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Rishi Sunak must reveal who knew what and when about the date of the general election amid a probe by the Gambling Commission, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Tony Lee, the Conservative Party’s director of campaigning has taken a “leave of absence” while he is investigated over an alleged bet on the delection date.

It had earlier emerged that his wife, Laura Saunders, the Tory candidate in Bristol North West, was facing an inquiry by the Gambling Commission.

Craig Williams, Mr Sunak’s parliamentary private secretary, is also facing questions from the gambling watchdog after admitting he “had a flutter” on the date.

A member of the Prime Minister’s protection team was arrested on Wednesday night.

Laura Saunders is facing an inquiry by the Gambling Commission
Laura Saunders is facing an inquiry by the Gambling Commission

Speaking during a visit to a housing development in Yorkshire, Sir Keir was asked whether the Prime Minister should give a full account of who knew what when about the election date.

The Labour leader said: “Of course he should. He should also suspend this candidate. As a candidate of mine, they’d be gone – their feet wouldn’t have touched the floor. And it’s very telling of Rishi Sunak that he hasn’t taken that action. But there is a bigger picture here.”

Describing the most recent reports as “astonishing”, Sir Keir added: “The Government and Rishi Sunak just need to take action. He needs to account for exactly who knew what, but when you’ve got a candidate standing for election in two weeks who’s involved, they’ve got to go – they’ve got to be suspended.

“I don’t know why he hasn’t done that. I think it is a real measure of his leadership, or lack of leadership.”

Mr Lee has taken a break from his role after it emerged that Ms Sanders is facing an inquiry by the Gambling Commission. She previously worked at Conservative Party headquarters.

The BBC reported on Thursday morning that she is married to Mr Lee. The latter’s LinkedIn page now appears to have been taken down. A summary on Google shows he was listed as the party’s director of campaigning.

Craig Williams, a senior aide to the Prime Minister, reportedly bet £100 on the date of the election just before it was called
Craig Williams, a senior aide to the Prime Minister, reportedly bet £100 on the date of the election just before it was called - Matthew Horwood/Getty Images Europe

Mr Williams, who is standing for re-election in Montgomeryshire, has not disputed reports in The Guardian last week that he bet on the election being held in July three days before the announcement was made by Mr Sunak. He admitted to having a “flutter” and went on to apologise for a “huge error of judgment”.

Approached about Ms Saunders’ case, a Conservative Party spokesman: “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.”

A Gambling Commission spokesman said: “The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the interests of consumers and the wider public. 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.”