News / Politics

Tory Bristol North West candidate Laura Saunders urged to stand down

By Martin Booth and Hope Talbot  Thursday Jun 20, 2024

Politicians from across the political spectrum have called on the Tory candidate in Bristol North West to be suspended

It comes as the husband of Laura Saunders has been revealed to be the Conservative Party’s director of campaigning with the couple now both being looked into over an alleged bet relating to the timing of the general election.

Saunders’ husband, Tony Lee, has now taken a leave of absence and left the campaign as Saunders is investigated by the Gambling Commission.

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A statement released via her lawyers said: “Ms Saunders will be co-operating with the Gambling Commission and has nothing further to add.

“It is inappropriate to conduct any investigation of this kind via the media, and doing so risks jeopardising the work of the Gambling Commission and the integrity of its investigation.

“The publication of the BBC’s story is premature and is a clear infringement of Ms Saunders’ privacy rights.

“She is considering legal action against the BBC and any other publishers who infringe her privacy rights.”

Laura Saunders in Sea Mills, part of the Bristol North West constituency – photo: Laura Saunders

On a visit to St Philip’s on Thursday morning, Ed Miliband told Bristol24/7 that the allegations against Saunders – who has worked for the Conservatives since 2015 – were “deeply troubling”.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have now both called for Saunders to be suspended as a Conservative candidate in a constituency that stretches from Avonmouth to Horfield and is currently held by Darren Jones who secured a majority of 5,692 in 2019.

Miliband, the shadow secretary of state for energy security & net zero, said: “These are deeply troubling, concerning allegations, we understand that Rishi Sunak has known about them for some time.

“There needs to be a thorough investigation of this. The idea that this behaviour would even be contemplated is a complete disgrace.”

Laura Saunders with Stoke Bishop councillors Henry Michallat (left) and John Goulandris (centre) – photo: Henry Michallat

A Conservative spokesperson said: “We have been contacted by the Gambling Commission about a small number of individuals.

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

A Gambling Commission spokesperson added: “The Gambling Commission regulates gambling in the interests of consumers and the wider public.

“Currently, the commission is investigating the possibility of offences concerning the date of the election.

“This is an ongoing investigation, and the commission cannot provide any further details at this time.

“We are not confirming or denying the identity of any individuals involved in this investigation.”

Main photo: Laura Saunders

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