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Conservative MP Scott Benton has been caught offering to leak confidential policy documents and lobby ministers on behalf of the gambling industry.

As revealed in an undercover exclusive investigation by The Times, the MP for Blackpool South violated the rules prohibiting MPs from lobbying in return for payment and disregarded new restrictions for politicians on providing parliamentary advice.

During the undercover sting, Benton believed he was liaising with two representatives from Tahr Partners, a fake British-Indian family office that feigned interest in investing in the betting and gaming sector.

During a meeting at a central London hotel last month, Benton detailed his willingness to leverage his position to aid their business and attempt to dilute proposed gambling reforms.

Specifically, he guaranteed that he could leak the forthcoming white paper on gambling reforms to the company at least 48 hours before its public release.

This would potentially enable them to capitalise on market-sensitive information, as the results of the review could have a substantial impact on the price of gambling stocks.

He also offered to submit parliamentary questions on behalf of the industry and bragged about “easy access to ministers”.

Finally, Benton said he could “call in favours” from colleagues who would be glad to support the fake company’s interests, and even offered to put on a dinner at the House of Commons.

For years, MPs have been banned from acting as paid lobbyists or accepting money to raise issues with ministers or ask questions in Parliament on behalf of clients.

Benton’s proposed actions would constitute a breach of both the longstanding rules against “paid advocacy” and the new restrictions on providing parliamentary advice.

Benton has since had the Tory party whip suspended while an investigation is underway.

The Times said this incident highlights the extensive lobbying campaign led by betting companies in Westminster, which has seen more than £180,000 spent on corporate hospitality for dozens of MPs since 2021 in a bid to sway the review in their favour.

The government’s long-awaited white paper is now expected to be published after the Easter recess, having initially been launched in 2020 when Boris Johnson was PM.

To carry out its investigation, The Times set up a fake company, complete with a logo, website, and office addresses in London and Chennai.

Elsewhere, The Sun has leaked further details from the yet-to-be-published review after it claimed to have gained access to cabinet documents.

The tabloid suggests the previously mooted £2 limit per spin for online casino will only apply to those under the age of 25.

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