• Home
  • News
  • Regulation
  • MP caught in gambling lobbying sting loses appeal against suspension
igamingnext photo
Ex-Tory MP Scott Benton’s appeal against his 35-day Commons suspension has been rejected, after he was caught in a 2023 gambling lobbying sting.  

The move is widely expected to trigger a by-election, which would take place if a recall petition received signatures from one in 10 voters in his constituency.

Benton, previously one of the staunchest defenders of the gambling industry in parliament, was filmed in an April 2023 sting by undercover reporters from The Times.

The Blackpool South MP claimed to a fictional Indian investment outfit that he would be able to lobby on their behalf in exchange for payment.

This included through the direct lobbying of minsters, by tabling parliamentary questions and approaching other MPs.

He also said he would be able to get hold of a copy of the then upcoming Gambling Act review white paper up to 48 hours prior to its general circulation.

Standards body slams “extremely serious” conduct

The Parliamentary Standards Committee blasted Benton’s “extremely serious” conduct in a December report.

In it, the standards body argued the breach had demonstrated Benton was “corrupt and for sale”.

The committee therefore imposed a 35-day suspension on Benton. This was above the punitive threshold to trigger a potential by-election through a recall petition.

On 19 January 2024, the MP opted to lodge an appeal with the Independent Expert Panel (IEP) to overturn the committee’s decision.

The IEP granted that there initially were grounds to consider an appeal. This was due to a committee leak in which the details of the suspension were published by The Mirror prior to the publication of the report.

The allegation that the committee was “procedurally flawed” and thereby failed in its confidentiality obligations was ultimately rejected by the IEP.

“Taking all these matters into account, we are satisfied that there is no substance in the appellant’s grounds,” said the IEP’s report. “Essentially, the appellant simply disagrees with the sanction determined.”

As such, the IEP backed the committee and the initial sanction was upheld.

Similar posts