Rishi Sunak's most senior adviser Liam Booth-Smith interviewed as witness by Gambling Commission in election bets probe

Rishi Sunak's most senior adviser in Downing Street has been interviewed in the investigation into bets by Conservatives on the date of the general election.

Liam Booth-Smith, Downing Street chief of staff, was interviewed last week by senior Gambling Commission officials and questioned about who knew about the timing of the election.

Sources have emphasised to Sky News that Mr Booth-Smith is not a suspect in the gambling investigation and was interviewed as a witness and was "asked for help".

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Described as the prime minister's most trusted ally, Mr Booth-Smith has worked for Mr Sunak since he was chancellor, when his fondness for leather jackets earned him the nickname 'the Treasury Travolta'.

Aged 37, he was brought up in a single-parent household in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. Before working for Mr Sunak, he also worked for Boris Johnson in Number 10.

Last year the New Statesman magazine placed Mr Booth-Smith at ninth place on a list of the 50 most powerful people in British Conservative politics.

According to a Gambling Commission insider, Mr Booth-Smith was interviewed by "senior officials within the Gambling Commission, more senior than investigators".

No plans to interview Sunak

Sky News has also been told there are currently no plans to interview the prime minister as part of the investigation into bets on the election date.

A commission source added: "However, if this was to be the case it's most likely the Met would lead on this type of interview of a high-profile investigation."

During the cash-for-honours scandal in 2006-07, Sir Tony Blair was interviewed by police three times about whether loans from wealthy Labour donors were sought in return for peerages.

Each time Sir Tony was interviewed it was as a witness and inside Downing Street. He was not arrested and the interviews were not under caution.

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During the partygate scandal in 2022 Boris Johnson was asked to complete a questionnaire and then became the first prime minister to be questioned by police under caution.

The disclosure that Mr Booth-Smith has been interviewed by the gambling regulator came as Mr Sunak repeatedly refused to say whether he told his parliamentary aide Craig Williams about the date of the election.

Former Tory candidate subject to 'live criminal investigation'

It also came 24 hours after Sky News revealed that Mr Williams, Tory candidate in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, was interviewed by Gambling Commission officials over his bet on the timing of the general election.

Mr Williams was cautioned and interviewed by two ex-police officers and a former HMRC official who are now investigators at the commission, according to a Gambling Commission insider.

It is understood the commission is now conducting a "live criminal investigation" and Mr Williams could face prosecution, a caution or no further action, depending on the evidence.

It was revealed two weeks ago that Mr Williams placed a £100 bet on a July election just three days before Mr Sunak announced the election on 22 May.

He was reported to have placed a bet with bookmakers Ladbrokes on Sunday 19 May in his Welsh constituency, which was the Tories' safest seat in Wales at the 2019 election, with a majority of over 12,000.

Admitting he made the bet, Mr Williams said: "I put a flutter on the general election some weeks ago.

"This has resulted in some routine inquiries and I confirm I will fully cooperate with these."

The Gambling Commission is not only investigating bets made by Conservatives.

Labour's candidate in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, Kevin Craig, who bet on the Tories to win the seat, is also being investigated and has been suspended by Sir Keir Starmer.

The latest statement on the gambling probe from the Metropolitan Police has revealed that seven police officers are being investigated for betting on the date of the election.

The full list of candidates in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr is:

Jeremy Brignell-Thorp, Greens
Oliver Lewis, Reform
Glyn Preston, Lib Dems
Elwyn Vaughan, Plaid Cymru
Craig Williams, deselected
Steve Witherden, Labour

The full list of candidates in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is:

Charlie Caiger, independent
Kevin Craig, deselected
Tony Gould, Reform
Mike Hallatt, independent
Brett Alistair Mickelburgh, Lib Dems
Dan Pratt, Greens
Patrick Spencer, Conservatives