Scott Benton Suspended As Tory MP After Lobbying Sting

Whip removed while an investigation takes place.
Scott Benton in the House of Commons.
Scott Benton in the House of Commons.
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor via PA Media

Conservative MP Scott Benton has had the party whip suspended after being filmed offering to help gambling industry lobbyists in exchange for financial reward.

A Times newspaper sting operation caught the MP for Blackpool South outlining his services after reporters posed on behalf of a fake investment fund.

Late on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Tory chief whip Simon Hart said: ”Following his self-referral to the parliamentary commissioner for standards earlier this evening, Scott Benton has had the Conservative party whip suspended whilst an investigation is ongoing.”

Benton appeared to propose actions that would be in breach of parliamentary lobbying rules. He did not pursue the role and no rules appear to have been broken.

At the meeting, Benton described how he could support the fund, which he believed was set up by an Indian businessman looking to make investments in the UK betting and gaming sector, by attempting to water down proposed gambling reforms.

It comes as the government is carrying out a major review of gambling laws, mulling stricter regulations that could affect operators’ profits.

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

He also said he could table parliamentary written questions and said he had previously done it on behalf of a company.

Benton said he could offer “the direct ear of a minister who is actually going to make these decisions” and speak to them outside the Commons voting lobby.

The MP agreed with a fee proposed by the reporters in the range of £2,000 to £4,000 a month for two days’ work.

In a statement, Benton said: “Last month I was approached by a purported company offering me an expert advisory role.

“I met with two individuals claiming to represent the company to find out what this role entailed.

“After this meeting, I was asked to forward my CV and some other personal details. I did not do so as I was concerned that what was being asked of me was not within parliamentary rules.

“I contacted the Commons registrar and the parliamentary standards commissioner who clarified these rules for me and had no further contact with the company. I did this before being made aware that the company did not exist and the individuals claiming to represent it were journalists.”


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