Tory MP caught in gambling industry lobbying sting hit by second investigation

Scott Benton (PA) (PA Archive)
Scott Benton (PA) (PA Archive)

A Conservative MP who was caught on camera allegedly offering to lobby in exchange for money is facing a second investigation by Parliament's standards watchdog.

Scott Benton had the Tory whip suspended earlier this month after he allegedly told an undercover reporter working for the Times he could lobby ministers on behalf of gambling interests.

The parliamentary commissioner for standards says Mr Benton, the MP for Blackpool South is now under investigation for "actions causing significant damage to the reputation of the House as a whole, or of its Members generally".

Two weeks ago standards commissioner Daniel Greenberg opened the first strand of his investigation into whether Mr Benton had misused his parliamentary email address.

Mr Benton has not yet commented on the fresh investigation.

It comes after Rishi Sunak himself was last week placed under investigation by the commissioner over allegations he failed to properly declare an interest in parliament.

Mr Sunak's wife part-owns a childcare agency that is set to benefit from changes announced in the budget. He failed to mention this during a committee hearing on the public despite being asked. Downing Street the interest has been properly declared to the Cabinet Office.

On Monday the standards commissioner announced it was extending its investigation into the prime minister.

The latest strand of that probe relates to MPs being banned from disclosing details in relation to any investigation the commissioner is undertaking without consent.

Separately, on Friday deputy prime minister Dominic Raab stepped down after an investigation found that he had bullied staff. He disputes the allegations but says he will comply with the findings.

Mr Benton is currently sitting as an independent having lost the whip after the Times exposé.

The newspaper's footage apparently shows Mr Benton saying he is willing to leak sensitive information to a bogus investment fund and ask parliamentary questions on its behalf.

This would break parliamentary rules, which forbid MPs from lobbying in return for payment.