Sunak receives letter from Gambling Commission over aide who placed bet on July election

Craig Williams is Rishi Sunak's parliamentary private secretary
Craig Williams is Rishi Sunak's parliamentary private secretary

Rishi Sunak has received a letter from the Gambling Commission about the inquiry into his parliamentary aide who reportedly bet £100 on the date of the general election just before it was called.

The Prime Minister is understood to have been contacted earlier this week to be told that Craig Williams, his parliamentary private secretary, was the subject of an investigation.

Mr Williams bet £100 on the general election being held in July three days before the announcement was made, according to the Guardian. Mr Sunak’s decision to hold a summer not autumn election surprised the nation.

The reporting has not been disputed by Mr Williams, who admitted he had a “flutter” on the election a few weeks ago. He has since apologised for a “huge error of judgment”.

The letter to Mr Sunak informed him of the Gambling Commission’s inquiry and did not request a meeting or further information from the Prime Minister, a Tory source said.

But the Prime Minister’s position is said to be that he is happy to co-operate if needed and urges others to do likewise if requested to do so by those investigating.

Commission has power to prosecute

The Gambling Commission, the regulatory body which oversees the gambling industry, has the power to prosecute cheating offences, with a maximum prison sentence of two years and a fine.

The Gambling Act 2005 has a section that makes clear cheating at gambling is an offence. One passage mentions cheating being an “attempted deception or interference” when gambling.

Mr Williams, who was first elected as a Tory MP in 2015, has been representing the constituency of Montgomeryshire in Wales for the last five years. He is seeking re-election on July 4.

Craig Williams, right, is seeking re-election on July 4
Craig Williams, right, is seeking re-election on July 4 - Justin Ng / Avalon

Mr Williams first became Mr Sunak’s parliamentary private secretary in the Treasury. He then joined his former boss in Downing Street in October 2022, when Mr Sunak became Prime Minister.

Mr Sunak is understood to have received the Gambling Commision letter earlier this week, though it is not clear exactly when, according to a Guardian report published on Wednesday evening.

‘Huge error of judgment’

Mr Williams said: “I’ve been contacted by a journalist about Gambling Commission inquiries into one of my accounts and thought it best to be totally transparent.

“I put a flutter on the general election some weeks ago. This has resulted in some routine inquiries and I confirm I will fully cooperate with these.

“I don’t want it to be a distraction from the campaign, I should have thought how it looks.”

Tracked down by the BBC later in the week, Mr Williams said: “I clearly made a huge error of judgment that’s for sure and I apologise.”

There is no suggestion that Mr Sunak was aware of Mr Williams’s bet before it was made.

The Gambling Commission has made clear it does not comment on individual cases.

A Conservative Party spokesman did not issue a comment when approached.