Tories suspend MP caught offering to lobby gambling company | UK News

Scott Benton Member of Parliament.

Scott Benton told Undercover reporters he could “offer the direct ear of a minister who will actually make those decisions” (Image: PA).

A Tory MP caught accepting money from a gambling company to ask questions in Parliament has had the whip exposed.

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton was caught on camera by undercover journalists from The Times listing the various ways he could lobby on behalf of the fake company.

The measures he proposed would have been in breach of parliamentary rules, which prohibit MPs from lobbying for a specific issue in the House or raising it with ministers for payment.

A spokesman for Tory chief whip Simon Hart said Mr Benton had referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and “suspended Conservative party whips pending an inquiry”.

But Labor said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s failure to act before Mr Benton referred himself showed his “weakness”.

The controversy comes as the government conducts a major review of gambling laws, considering tighter regulations that could hurt operators’ profits.

Mr Benton, the leader of the parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group, told undercover journalists he could try to water down the reforms by tabling written questions and speaking directly to a minister who would make the decisions.

He also offered a “guarantee” to provide the company with a copy of an upcoming gambling white paper at least two days before publication, potentially allowing it to benefit from market-sensitive information.

The MP agreed to a fee of between £2,000 and £4,000 a month for two days’ work, which the reporters suggested.

Conservative MP Scott Benton speaks to the media on College Green, central London, as Boris Johnson faces a no-confidence vote by Tory MPs, amid the party's fury over revelations about lockdown parties at Downing Street. Picture date: Monday June 6, 2022.

Mr Benton is the leader of the parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group (Image: PA)

Linking Mr Benton’s actions to the Prime Minister, a Labor spokesman said: “We see again the weakness of Rishi Sunak.

“Rather than act immediately, he waited until Scott Benton referred himself to the commissioner.

“Rishi Sunak’s lack of mandate means he’s too nervous to move against his own troops. No wonder Tory MPs think they can get away with blue-eyed murder.”

Lib Dem Deputy Chair Daisy Cooper said the revelations were a “daming indictment of the state of the Conservative Party”.

Mr Benton, who will not sit as Tory in the House of Commons while the stick is suspended, said in a statement: “Last month I was approached by what they say was a company offering me an advisory role as an expert.

“I met with two people who claimed to represent the company to find out what that role entailed.

“After this meeting, I was asked to submit my CV and some other personal data. I did not do this because I feared that what was being asked of me would not conform to parliamentary rules.

“I contacted the Commons Registrar and Parliamentary Standards Commissioner who clarified these rules for me and have had no further contact with the company.

“I did this before being made aware that the company does not exist and the people claiming to represent it were journalists.”

Downing Street said it was primarily a matter for Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Daniel Greenberg and flogging matters were a matter for the Whips Office.

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Justin Scaccy

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