Scott Benton: Tory MP has whip suspended after being filmed appearing to offer to lobby for gambling industry

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Scott Benton was filmed by undercover journalists at The Times, with footage reportedly showing him offering to lobby on behalf of gambling investors.

Tory MP Scott Benton had the party whip suspended on Wednesday (5 April) after undercover footage showed him offering to lobby ministers on behalf of gambling investors.

Journalists at The Times, posing on behalf of a fake investment fund in the industry, filmed the MP for Blackpool South as part of an undercover sting operation. In the footage, Benton can reportedly be seen offering to leak a confidential policy document containing market sensitive information, in exchange for a payment of £2,000 to £4,000 per month.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The former Conservative MP also offers to lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry, saying he could “call in favours” from colleagues and get “easy access” to ministers when they are queueing to vote in Parliament. Under parliamentary rules, MPs are forbidden from providing advice to firms on how to influence the House - or for advocating for a particular matter in exchange for payment of any kind.

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.”

In a statement to The Times, Benton said he had contacted the House of Commons authorities after he met with the journalists, who he thought to be gambling investors, to seek advice - as he was “concerned that what was being asked of me was not within parliamentary rules”. He also added that after this, he had “no further contact” with the fake company and did not pursue a role with them.

Scott Benton has had the whip suspended for appearing to offer to lobby for the gambling industry. Credit: Mark Hall/ParliamentScott Benton has had the whip suspended for appearing to offer to lobby for the gambling industry. Credit: Mark Hall/Parliament
Scott Benton has had the whip suspended for appearing to offer to lobby for the gambling industry. Credit: Mark Hall/Parliament | Mark Hall/Parliament

Responding to the news, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has claimed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has lost control of his own MPs. He told broadcasters in Scunthorpe: “I think all of this shows that the Prime Minister has lost a grip and, if ever we needed further evidence this is it, that Tory sleaze is back.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Holborn and St Pancras MP also emphasised the importance of transparency for MPs and the need to follow rules, remarking: “With Scott Benton, as we have seen, it is flagrant disregard of those rules and those principles.”

Tory MPs have also criticised their former colleague, with transport minister Richard Holden telling Times Radio: “This behaviour is totally unacceptable and I am glad that it is now going to be thoroughly investigated, all the claims made, and will be properly looked into.”

Asked whether an MP’s actions could get any worse than offering to leak confidential documents, Holden curtly replied: “No.” When pressed that Benton was a Conservative MP, Holden said: “He’s not any more.”

The revelation comes as the government considers a crackdown on the gambling industry, with stricter regulations possible in the near future.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In The Times article, the newspaper describes how it created a fictitious investment fund and approached MPs seeking an “expert adviser” amid this review of gambling laws, claiming that “gaining insight from policymakers is a key part of our strategic investment strategy”. While some MPs declined, Benton was said to agreed to arrange a meeting.

During the meeting, Benton reportedly suggested he could, if hired, provide “real-time information” and “easy access” to ministers, as well as sitting down with them to go through a formal response to a policy consultation “line by line”.

According to The Times, he also said he would be able to "guarantee" a copy of the white paper of the policy two days before it was published, in a move that would give the fake company access to market-sensitive information ahead of publication.

Tory MP Scott Benton. Credit: PATory MP Scott Benton. Credit: PA
Tory MP Scott Benton. Credit: PA | PA

In a statement shared with the BBC, Benton, MP for Blackpool South, 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.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“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.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.