Rishi Sunak’s Bodyguard Arrested Over Election Betting Scandal

arrest of Rishi Sunak's bodyguard
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One of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s close personal protection officers has been arrested for allegedly placing bets on the timing of the forthcoming general election. The unnamed officer is understood to be a member of the London Metropolitan Police Force’s Royalty and Specialist Protection (RaSP) Command unit.

Arrest and Investigation

The Metropolitan Police confirmed the officer’s arrest on Monday on suspicion of misconduct in public office. He has been suspended from duty, and the case has been referred to the force’s Directorate of Professional Standards and the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

This arrest comes just a week after it was revealed that Sunak’s closest political aide, Craig Williams, was under investigation by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for placing a bet on a July election just three days before Sunak called the ballot. Williams hoped to stand in the election as the Conservative candidate for Montgomeryshire, Wales.

Expanding Betting Scandal

The betting scandal widened on Wednesday when another Conservative Party candidate, Laura Saunders, was also reported to be under investigation. Saunders, who is standing as MP for Bristol North West, is married to Tony Lee, the Conservative Party’s director of campaigns.

In the UK, betting on political events is legal, but sportsbooks closely monitor markets where individuals might have insider knowledge about the outcomes. Betting with insider information is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Misconduct in public office carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The UKGC has recently asked domestic betting operators to review substantial bets made on a July election, indicating the seriousness of the situation.

Election Betting Context

Prime Minister Sunak announced a July 4 election on May 22, surprising many as his Conservative Party has been trailing in the polls since early 2022. Some sportsbooks have the odds of a government change at 1/200, indicating a 99.5% probability.

Sunak had no legal obligation to call an election until December 2025. UK law mandates that general elections be held no more than five years apart, with the timing at the discretion of the prime minister.

Craig Williams admitted to the BBC that he had made a “huge error of judgment” but declined to confirm whether insider knowledge influenced his bet, citing the ongoing UKGC investigation. “I don’t want it to be a distraction from the campaign. I should have thought through how it looks,” he said.

Conclusion

The arrest of Rishi Sunak’s bodyguard and the investigation into his aide Craig Williams highlight the severity of the election betting scandal. As the UKGC and Metropolitan Police continue their inquiries, the implications of this controversy may further impact the political landscape and public trust. The unfolding events underscore the importance of integrity and transparency in political processes and the potential consequences of breaches.