Using inside information for election date bets completely wrong, says Ross

It came amid a Gambling Commission investigation reportedly involving Conservative director of campaigning Tony Lee and his candidate wife.

Douglas Ross was questioned about the issue at Holyrood
Douglas Ross was questioned about the issue at Holyrood (Jane Barlow/PA)

Any candidates found to have used inside information to bet on the date of the General Election should be sacked, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said.

Speaking to journalists at Holyrood, Mr Ross – who has said he will quit the post after the election – stressed an independent investigation has been set up into such allegations that should be allowed to run its course.

It came after Conservative director of campaigning Tony Lee announced he would be taking a leave of absence – with just two weeks to go before polling day – amid reports both he and his would-be MP wife Laura Saunders are being investigated by the Gambling Commission.

Ms Saunders and Mr Lee are the latest people with links to the Tory party or No 10 caught up in allegations about betting on the date of the July 4 contest, with an officer in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s close protection detail having been arrested, while another candidate, Craig Williams, is also under investigation by the commission.

Mr Ross said: “(The investigation has) been set up to look at these allegations, and if anyone is guilty of using (information) that they were privy to, to place bets, to financially benefit from that, it is completely unacceptable, it is completely wrong and they should no longer have the support.

“But there is an independent process and I think it’s right that due process is allowed to continue.”

He added that he does not “in any way condone” what has happened, if the Gambling Commission identifies wrongdoing.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said the Tory election campaign is “collapsing before our very eyes”.

He added: “It’s gone from bad, to worse, to catastrophic – and in just two weeks’ time the Tories will deeply deserve the democratic drubbing that they are about to get.

“The Tories are finished and Sir Keir Starmer is set to swan straight into Downing Street. In this election, that choice is already made, so the real choice that now matters for Scotland is whether we will have MPs who’ll stand up for our priorities and values.

“With the Tories already toast, the real choice at this election is whether we give Sir Keir Starmer a free pass to impose more public service cuts, or whether we have a strong Scottish voice there to stop him.”