Parliamentary aide who made £100 election day bet apologises for 'huge error of judgement'

Rishi Sunak’s parliamentary aide Craig Williams is facing a Gambling Commission probe (PA Media)
Rishi Sunak’s parliamentary aide Craig Williams is facing a Gambling Commission probe (PA Media)

Rishi Sunak’s closest parliamentary aide has apologised for a “huge error of judgement” after placing an £100 bet on a July election just three days before it was called by the Prime Minister.

On Thursday Conservative candidate Craig Williams, who is being investigated over the incident, told the BBC: “I clearly made a huge error of judgement that’s for sure and I apologise."

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

“The gambling commission are looking at it now.”

Mr Williams, who served as the Prime Minister’s parliamentary private secretary, admitted to placing a bet on when the poll would take place “some weeks ago”.

The Guardian reported that Mr Williams placed a bet with the bookmaker Ladbrokes on May 19 in his local constituency of Montgomeryshire, just three days before Mr Sunak made the surprise announcement.

The Conservative candidate for Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr wrote on X: “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 co-operate with these. I don’t want it to be a distraction from the campaign. I should have thought through how it looks.”

Mr Williams is a trusted member of Mr Sunak’s team and acted as a go-between for the Prime Minister and his MPs.

The alleged bet would have led to a payout of £500, according to the Guardian.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “We are aware of contact between a Conservative candidate and the Gambling Commission. It is a personal matter for the individual in question.

“As the Gambling Commission is an independent body, it wouldn’t be proper to comment further, until any process is concluded.”

A Gambling Commission spokesman said: “The Gambling Commission does not typically confirm or deny whether any investigations are under way unless or until they are concluded, or if arrests are made or charges are brought during a criminal investigation.

“If someone uses confidential information in order to gain an unfair advantage when betting, this may constitute an offence of cheating under Section 42 of the Gambling Act, which is a criminal offence.”

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, described what had happened as “utterly extraordinary”.

He said: “Rishi Sunak has sat on this information for more than a week but has lacked any backbone to take action. Once again, Rishi Sunak has been exposed as utterly weak.

“After all the Tory financial scandals, this is more evidence that the Tories have learned nothing, haven’t changed, and if given five more years, the chaos will just continue.

“Britain has the chance to turn the page on this failed Tory government which will heap £4,800 onto people’s mortgages. It’s time to rebuild with Labour.”