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Scott Benton has whip suspended after lobbying questions arise

A Conservative MP who offered to lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry has had the party whip suspended.

Scott Benton also offered to leak a confidential policy document for up to £4,000 a month and said he could table parliamentary written questions.

Benton, the MP for ‘red wall’ seat Blackpool South, was caught by undercover reporters from The Times, acting on behalf of a fake investment fund. He said he could “call in favours” from colleagues and get “easy access” to ministers whilst queueing for parliamentary votes.

He did not pursue the role and no rules appear to have been broken. But late on Wednesday night, a spokesperson for the Tory chief whip, Simon Hart, said that Benton had the whip suspended “whilst an investigation is ongoing”.

Benton is said to have referred himself to the parliamentary commissioner for standards.

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.”

This revelation could threaten to reignite sleaze allegations within the Conservative party and turn more attention onto paid lobbying in Westminster and the complications it can bring.

Transport minister Richard Holden described his colleague’s conduct as “unacceptable” and said he was pleased the allegations were now being investigated.








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