Tory candidate tells BBC election bet was 'huge error of judgement'

Media caption,

Election bet 'huge error of judgement', Tory candidate admits

  • Published

Conservative candidate Craig Williams has apologised and said he made a "huge error of judgement" over betting on the date of the next general election.

Mr Williams, who was an aide to the prime minister in the last Parliament, is alleged to have placed a £100 bet on a July election three days before Rishi Sunak announced the 4 July poll.

Mr Sunak's decision to call the poll was a surprise to many, including many Conservative MPs, who were expecting an autumn date.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Williams said: “I clearly made a huge error of judgement that’s for sure and I apologise."

Labour called the allegations "utterly extraordinary".

Mr Williams refused to answer questions about whether he had any inside information when he placed the bet.

He said: “I will not be expanding on my statement because it’s an independent process.

“The gambling commission are looking at it now.”

Speaking at the G7 summit in Italy, Mr Sunak described news of the bet as "very disappointing".

He repeatedly refused to comment on whether Mr Williams knew about the election date when he placed the wager, saying this would not be "appropriate" while the Gambling Commission's independent inquiry was ongoing.

Media caption,

Sunak on election bet Tory candidate: Very disappointing news

On Wednesday, Mr Williams, external had posted on X about the allegations: "I've been contacted by a journalist about Gambling Commission inquiries into one of my accounts and thought it best to be totally transparent.

"I put a flutter on the general election some weeks ago. This has resulted in some routine inquiries and I confirm I will fully cooperate with these.

"I don't want to be a distraction from the campaign, I should have thought through how it looked."

Conservative Wales Office minister Fay Jones confirmed the Gambling Commission had "spoken to" Mr Williams and said "they are making some preliminary investigations".

She told BBC Wales Live: "It's not great, there's no two ways about that... Let's get the facts first, before we make a decision."

Political opponents reacted sharply, with Welsh Labour's Stephen Kinnock labelling the situation "utterly extraordinary".

He added: "It's really important that the Gambling Commission acts quickly, and they come back with a clear verdict on what Mr Williams has done."

Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts told the programme: "It begs the questions of what Mr Williams' judgement was in relation to putting a date on what we presume to be the general election."

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper said the PM should call a Cabinet Office inquiry.

"This inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of who knew what when, and uncover whether Craig Williams knew the election date at the time the bet was placed," she said.

A Gambling Commission spokesperson said it does not "confirm or deny whether any investigations are underway unless or until they are concluded, or if arrests are made or charges are brought during a criminal investigation".

The spokesperson also said that the confidential use of information in order to gain an unfair advantage when betting "may constitute an offence of cheating under Section 42 of the Gambling Act, which is a criminal offence".

The other candidates standing in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr are:

  • Jeremy Brignell-Thorp, the Green Party

  • Oliver Lewis, Reform UK

  • Glyn Preston, Liberal Democrat

  • Elwyn Vaughan, Plaid Cymru

  • Steve Witherden, Labour

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