Labour candidate Kevin Craig suspended after betting against himself

25 June 2024, 16:06 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 21:07

A Labour candidate has been suspended by the party after betting against himself - with the Gambling Commission launching an investigation into him.

Kevin Craig is running to become the MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich - a safe Conservative seat previously held by ex-Tory Dan Poulter, who defected to Labour ahead of the election and is not standing again.

Sky News' chief political correspondent Jon Craig understands the bet was relating to the outcome of the vote in his constituency - and the candidate had actually been betting he would lose the contest.

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Labour confirmed Kevin Craig had been suspended by the party - though at this late stage, he will still appear on the ballot paper with "Labour" next to his name.

It is also understood that the party will return £100,000 in donations to the businessman that he has made since Sir Keir Starmer took charge of Labour.

Posting on X, Mr Craig said he had "enjoyed the odd bet for fun" throughout his life, adding: "A few weeks ago when I thought I would never win this seat I put a bet on the Tories to win here with the intention of giving any winnings to local charities.

"While I did not place this bet with any prior knowledge of the outcome, this was a huge mistake, for which I apologise unreservedly."

He said he had "so much respect" for Sir Keir and it was "right that the party upholds the highest standards for its parliamentary candidates - just as the public expects the highest standards from any party hoping to serve in government".

Mr Craig also said he would "comply fully" with the Gambling Commission's investigation and apologised to his local Labour team, adding: "I deeply regret what I have done and will take the consequences of this stupid error of judgement on the chin."

A Labour Party spokesperson said: "With [Sir] Keir Starmer as leader, the Labour Party upholds the highest standards for our parliamentary candidates, as the public rightly expects from any party hoping to serve, which is why we have acted immediately in this case."

The incident comes after two Conservative candidates were suspended by their party for allegedly placing bets on when the election date would be.

Those allegations first emerged almost two weeks ago, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying he would wait for the outcome of the Gambling Commission's inquiry before acting.

However, in a U-turn announced this morning, both candidates have now been suspended - though again the Conservative Party name will still appear on ballot papers.

Two Tory party officials and an officer from Mr Sunak's close protection team are also being investigated by the Gambling Commission over the placing of bets on the timing of the election.

And later on Tuesday, another Conservative politician was also revealed to be under investigation by the commission - Welsh MSP Russell George.

A statement from the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said Mr George would step back from his role as the party's deputy chief whip in the Senedd while the investigation is ongoing.

Scotland Secretary Alister Jack has denied any wrongdoing after reports he had made more than £2,000 by betting on the timing of the election.

He told Sky News: "I am very clear that I have never, on any occasion, broken any Gambling Commission rules. Specifically, I did not place any bets on the date of the general election during May (the period under investigation by the Gambling Commission). Furthermore, I am not aware of any family or friends placing bets."

"And for the avoidance of doubt that based on my comment above, the Gambling Commission have obviously not contacted me."

Mr Craig is the founder and chief executive of marketing and PR agency PLMR, with the company's website describing him as "an expert in political communications, crisis management, and corporate communications".

He also served as a Labour councillor for 17 years in London.

A full list of the candidates running for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is below:

Charlie Caiger, independent;
Tony Gould, Reform UK;
Mike Hallatt, independent;
Brett Alistair Mickelburgh, Lib Dems;
Dan Pratt, Greens;
Patrick Spencer, Conservatives.