February 20, 2024 3 min read


UK MP Loses Appeal amidst Gambling Lobbying Scandal

The island nation has strict rules against paid lobbying, which didn’t prevent the Tory representative from getting caught in a gambling-related sting

Blackpool South MP Scott Benton has lost his appeal against a proposed suspension from the House of Commons following his involvement in a gambling-related lobbying sting operation. The Independent Expert Panel (IEP) dismissed his appeal as the UK prepares to enter the next stage of consultations on its upcoming gambling white paper.

The Parliament Condemned Benton’s Conduct

Mr. Benton was suspended from the Tory parliamentary party in April after an undercover investigation by The Times revealed that he was willing to break lobbying rules for money. In the gambling-related lobbying sting, Benton suggested to undercover reporters that he would agree to receive payment to assist a fake lobbying company by providing it with confidential documents.

The standards committee found that Benton’s actions constituted a substantial breach of regulations and recommended a 35-day suspension. Despite the MP denying his wrongdoing, the IEP ruled that they found his arguments insubstantial and upheld the suspension. Now, MPs will vote on the punishment, and if passed, triggering a recall petition and a possible by-election.

Taking all these matters into account, we are satisfied that there is no substance in the Appellant’s grounds.

IEP statement

Benton’s conduct caused significant controversy, receiving descriptions like “corrupt” and “for sale.” By undermining the Parliament’s reputation, Benton effectively violated Paragraph 17 of the House of Commons Code of Conduct, which states that members should undertake actions that could cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons or its members.

UK’s Gambling Reform Faces Ongoing Challenges

In response to this newest ruling,  Benton expressed deep disappointment and accused the appeals process of regular leaks to the press. He emphasized his continued work for his constituents throughout the probe and claimed the process lacked fairness. While Benton admitted he had a lapse of judgment, the MP protested that his punishment was disproportionate.

This scandal further inflames the ongoing debates regarding the UK’s gambling white paper, which should reinvent the country’s gambling regulations. During the sting operation, Benton admitted that other MPs were willing to collaborate, highlighting how bad actors could attempt to subvert the much-needed reforms as the UK struggles with rising problem gambling rates.

Benton’s suspension highlights the growing tensions amidst the UK’s gambling reforms. Lawmakers have urged the government to hasten the consultation process and finalize the white paper, noting that further delays could have significant repercussions. This lobbying controversy is a potent reminder that some industry members may not share the same customer protection-focused priorities.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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