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Fourth Tory suspended in betting scandal

PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak’s gambling crisis plunged to a fresh low today after another senior Tory official was suspended.

Chief data officer Nick Mason joined campaigns director Tony Lee on leave of absence from the floundering campaign amid claims that they placed bets on the date of the election.

And Home Secretary James Cleverly could only say without certainty that he had “no reason to believe” that cabinet ministers were in on the scam.

The sleaze row threatened to entirely overshadow the Conservative campaign as senior Tories admitted the row was damaging them.

The Gambling Commission is investigating the possibility that the officials used inside information about the PM’s election decision, which came as a shock to most people, to make a quick killing.

One Tory candidate, Craig Williams in Montgomeryshire, has admitted placing bets on the date. He was Mr Sunak’s parliamentary private secretary and so very close to his decision-making.

Another candidate, Laura Saunders in Bristol North-West, is also under investigation by the commission. She is married to Mr Lee.

The Sunday Times claimed today that Mr Mason had placed dozens of bets potentially worth thousands of pounds.

Labour said today: “These fresh allegations are utterly extraordinary. Rishi Sunak promised integrity, professionalism and accountability: instead his weakness means he has overseen the same sleaze and scandal that have come to epitomise the last 14 years of Tory government.”

The Prime Minister “must take immediate action and suspend all those implicated in the Tory betting scandal,” the party spokesman added.

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said there is genuine disgust among voters over the general election betting allegations she described as “pretty shocking behaviour.”

Outgoing Tory grandee Michael Gove conceded that the furore was deeply damaging and compared it to the Partygate revelations, which irreparably damaged Boris Johnson’s premiership.

“It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us,” he said. “That’s the most potentially damaging thing.”

Sunak was under increasing pressure to suspend the two parliamentary candidates under investigation. Former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland was the latest from within the aprty to call for him to do so.

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