Conservative candidate says she will cooperate with gambling investigation

Bristol Conservative candidate Laura Saunders has said she will cooperate with an investigation into claims she placed a bet on the timing of the election.

Laura Saunders and her husband, the Conservatives’ director of campaigning Tony Lee, are among a number of people who have been caught up in allegations that a number of bets were made just before the General Election was announced.

Mr Lee has now taken a leave of absence amid reports the couple were being investigated by the gambling regulator.

In a statement released on Ms Saunders’ behalf, Nama Zarroug, a solicitor at Astraea Linskills, said: “As the Conservative Party has already stated, investigations are ongoing.

“Ms Saunders will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission and has nothing further to add.

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

“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.”

News of the investigation into Bristol North West candidate Ms Saunders emerged after the arrest of one of the Prime Minister’s police protection officers and the previous revelation of a Gambling Commission investigation into a parliamentary aide.

A Conservative spokesman said: “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.”

The Gambling Commission said: “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.”

Sir Keir Starmer said: “If it was one of my candidates, they’d be gone and their feet would not have touched the floor.”