Exclusive:Tory MP Laurence Robertson under investigation by Parliament’s watchdog over second job with gambling lobbyist

Photo: Mark Hall/NationalWorld
Laurence Robertson has attended every major horse racing event at least once in recent years paid for by the industry

A Conservative MP is under investigation by parliamentary authorities over a second job with a gambling lobbyist, after NationalWorld revealed that the role could be in breach of new rules for MPs introduced in March.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has launched an investigation into Laurence Robertson, the MP for Tewkesbury, and his paid role with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

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Robertson, who earns £2,000 a month for a role which was described in the register of members’ financial interests as “parliamentary adviser” until last month, has denied any wrongdoing, saying: “I do not, and have not, provided parliamentary advice to the BGC.”

The commissioner’s website was updated yesterday (3 May) announcing the investigation, after NationalWorld reported last week that the watchdog was reviewing a complaint relating to Robertson. NationalWorld understands that the complaint was prompted by our reporting.

If his role is found to be in breach of the new rules, the precedent could have implications for other MPs who maintain similar second jobs.

Following the Owen Paterson scandal in late 2021, which saw the former minister resign as an MP after he was found to have breached lobbying restrictions, MPs began reforming the rules around outside earnings and second jobs.

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In March this year, a new code of conduct for MPs came into force, with a new rule barring MPs from providing paid parliamentary advice. The code now states that MPs “must not provide, or agree to provide, paid parliamentary advice, including undertaking, or agreeing to undertake services as a Parliamentary strategist, adviser or consultant”.

Robertson took the role with the BGC in October 2020, at which time there was no ban on providing parliamentary advice. But, contacted by NationalWorld after the new rules came into force, Robertson said the role had not changed.

When NationalWorld first reported that Robertson had kept the job after the ban came into force, his entry in the register of members’ financial interests gave his job description as “parliamentary adviser”. In the latest edition of the register, Robertson now describes the role simply as “adviser”.

Horse racing, the Brits and Euros tickets

Since 2014, Robertson has attended almost every major event in the horse racing calendar at least once courtesy of the industry, including Goodwood, Ascot, the Grand National, Epsom, York, Newbury, Chepstow and Doncaster.

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The total value of hospitality and tickets he’s received to these events is almost £60,000, not including annual race passes, worth up to £1,000 each, which entitle the bearer to visit various races. Robertson has been given at least one pass every year by the Racecourse Association since 2016.

Robertson’s employer, the BGC, has provided a significant amount of these tickets, as well as hospitality to other events, including the Brit Awards in 2022 and the England versus Denmark match in the European Championships.

In the vast majority of cases, Robertson has been accompanied by his wife, who earns between £50,000 and £54,999 per year as his office manager - her pay has increased from between £40,000 and £44,999 in 2019. Robertson has employed his current wife since at least 2010, though at the time he also employed his now ex-wife as his secretary. His now ex-wife kept her role until 2014.

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