Labour suspends election candidate ‘who guess on himself to lose’

Labour has suspended General Election candidate Kevin Craig after the Gambling Commission launched an investigation.

The party said after being contacted by the watchdog, they took swift action to administratively suspend the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich candidate. It is understood Mr Craig placed a bet on himself losing the seat last won by the Tories at the 2019 General Election with a majority of over 23,000.

Labour is also expected to return Mr Craig’s £100,000 donation to the party under Keir Starmer’s leadership. The sum was registered with the Electoral Commission in May 2023.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “With Keir Starmer as leader, the Labour party upholds the highest standards for our parliamentary candidates, as the public rightly expects from any party hoping to serve, which is why we have acted immediately in this case.”

It came just hours after Rishi Sunak finally ditched two election candidates as the crisis into the General Election betting scandal deepend. The PM only took action on Tuesday despite allegations emerging 13 days earlier that one of his aides placed a £100 bet on the election date. The Labour leader Keir Starmer responded: “Why didn’t that happen a week ago?”

A Tory candidate also vented anger, telling the Mirror: “Yet again No10 has made a fixable problem one that brings people to question their entire judgement.” The scandal first broke on June 12, when it emerged the Gambling Commission was looking into the PM’s parliamentary aide Craig Williams, who is standing to be MP in Montgomeryshire & Glyndwr.

After the Tories dropped him, he insisted he “committed an error of judgement, not an offence”, adding: “I intend to clear my name.” In a video posted on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Williams told his constituents: “I remain on the ballot paper come July 4 and I hope to secure your support after years of delivery.

“I committed an error of judgement, not an offence, and I want to reiterate my apology directly to you. I am fully co-operating with routine inquiries from the Gambling Commission and I intend to clear my name.”

Conservative candidate in Bristol North West, Laura Saunders, was also ditched after allegations emerged last week she is being investigated by the gambling regulator over a bet on the timing of the vote. Because nominations have closed, she and Mr Williams will still be on ballot papers when voters head to the polls on July 4.

Ms Saunders is married to the Tory party’s director of campaigns Tony Lee, who is also being probed by the watchdog and has taken a leave of absence. The party’s chief data officer Nick Mason has also been told he is being looked into and has stepped back from his duties.

The PM’s withdrawal of support from Mr Williams and Ms Saunders came after senior Tories were sent out earlier this week to defend his decision not to take action.

A Conservative Party spokesman: “As a result of ongoing internal enquiries, we have concluded that we can no longer support Craig Williams or Laura Saunders as Parliamentary Candidates at the forthcoming General Election. We have checked with the Gambling Commission that this decision does not compromise the investigation that they are conducting, which is rightly independent and ongoing.”