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Scott Benton was ousted after lobbying questions arose


A Conservative MP who offered to lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry has been suspended from his party duties.

Scott Banton also offered to issue a confidential policy paper worth up to £4,000 a month and said he could submit parliamentary written questions.

Benton, the MP for Blackpool South, was caught by undercover reporters from The Times acting on behalf of a bogus investment fund. He said he could “suggest” colleagues and get “easy access” to ministers when queuing to vote in parliament.

He was not playing that role, and no rules seem to have been broken. But late on Wednesday, a spokesman for Tory chief whip Simon Hart said Benton had suspended the whip “pending an investigation”.

Benton is said to have appealed to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

In a statement, Benton said: “Last month I was approached by a purported company offering me a role as an expert consultant.

“I met with the two individuals who are applying to represent the company to find out what the role entails.

“After this meeting I was asked to forward my resume and some other personal details. I did not do this because I was concerned that what was being asked of me was not in accordance with the rules of Parliament.

“I contacted the registrar and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards who explained the rules to me and have had no further contact with the company. I did this before I found out that the company did not exist and that the persons claiming to represent it were journalists.”

The revelation could threaten to re-ignite allegations of misconduct in the Conservative Party and draw more attention to paid lobbying in Westminster and the complications it can cause.

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

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