Last week, the Gambling Commission published a damning indictment of Gala Coral. Gary Watts, a problem gambler, had stolen over £800,000 which he had lost to the bookmaker, but they had failed to realise that he was a problem gambler engaged in money laundering. A fail on both counts!
The judgement followed a Westminster Hall debate on bookies’ Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, where Tory MP David Nuttall claimed that it could not be true that gamblers are losing £300 in a minute but are also money laundering. It is apparently beyond his comprehension that some customers are money laundering, whilst others are losing £300 a minute.
Gambling with the proceeds of crime is also considered money laundering, which is precisely what Gary Watts was engaged in. This is why he got three years in prison and why the Gambling Commission required Gala Coral to forfeit the proceeds back to the victims.
However, true to the regulator’s form, no licenses were revoked and no fine was imposed on the bookie, despite Gala Coral messing up on a similar scale a few years ago. A no-lose situation for the bookies!
Two allegedly pro-horseracing MPs, the Tory’s Laurence Robertson and Labour’s Conor McGinn, expressed concern that restrictions on FOBT stakes would result in less cash for the bookies which could impact the survival of horse racing.
But betting shops have converted racing punters to FOBT gamblers with inducements such as free bets, credits and tournaments. They are also refusing bets from racing punters they suspect may actually win.
Horseracing is thriving in Ireland where, due to a sensible government, FOBTs are not allowed. The non-sense emanating from these pro-bookie MPs has an aroma of the horse’s ass variety…
Content produced and sponsored by Stop the FOBTS
Last month Guido looked at the murky goings on around Tory MP Laurence Robertson, who was then referred to the Standards Commissioner over allegations of cash-for-access. Well, he’s at it again…
Robertson has received four fully-funded racecourse trips from bookmakers Gala Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill, as well as two further trips from course owners The Jockey Club. In total, that’s £3,466 of free trips to Aintree, Cheltenham and Chepstow, with the priciest trip costing a whopping £800. Such generosity is only to be expected – in December Robertson raised a couple of helpful questions in the Commons in favour of the so-called “racing right”, a key issue for the racing industry and large bookmakers.
Last month it was cash-for-access claims, this month it’s completely coincidental freebies. Time for a stewards’ inquiry…
Laurence Robertson, the Tory MP at the centre of a cash-for-access row following Guido’s two stories yesterday, has been reported to the Standards Commissioner. Edward Buxton, who was Labour’s candidate in Robertson’s Tewkesbury seat, writes to Kathryn Hudson:
Dear Mrs Hudson,
I wish to refer you to the recent allegations that have been made regarding my local Member of Parliament Laurence Robertson and his award of a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist.
The Guido Fawkes website reported that Mr Robertson gave “a parliamentary pass” with “authorised access” to the entire parliamentary estate to Jennifer Bryant-Pearson, “a lobbyist who paid him thousands of pounds.” Jennifer Bryant-Pearson is chief executive of JBP Public Relations, a lobbying firm which specialises in parliamentary affairs.
It was further reported that Mr Robertson has declared “up to £10,000 in payments from Westminster Parliamentary Research”, which is in turn run by Bryant-Pearson. The Telegraph has reported that Mr Robertson is employed as a board member at Veolia Environmental Services and “has declared thousands of pounds in payments from Veolia since 2013.” Veolia Environmental Services has been described as “one of the main clients” of JBP Public Relations.
The overlap between Bryant-Pearson; JBP Public Relations; Westminster Parliamentary Research; Veolia Environmental Services and Laurence Robertson seems to have allowed Mr Robertson to sponsor “Bryant-Pearson for a pass while he was in the pay of her client.”
Mr Robertson has claimed “Ms Bryant-Pearson carried out work supporting All Party Groups (APPG), secretarial duties, publicity, arranging and attending meetings and translation services,” however the use of parliamentary passes for APPG staff was withdrawn on 18 July 2013 and the Serjeant at Arms wrote to all MPs informing them “that this category of pass should not be used in the future”. Yet the pass in question was still held by Ms Bryant-Pearson until a few months ago. If I may can I refer you to the final words of the Guido Fawkes blog post: “it stinks…”
The entire case raises fundamental questions and concerns over the conduct and judgement of Mr Robertson. I would be grateful if you would investigate this matter and inform me of the outcome.
Giving a pass to a lobbyist for APPG work is explicitly banned by the Serjeant at Arms, and Robertson confessed to Guido in writing that this is what he has done. Add in the £40,000 changing hands and this is going to be a very difficult one to explain…
This morning Guido revealed a Tory MP has given a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist who paid him thousands of pounds. Laurence Robertson was paid £10,000 by a firm run by Jennifer Bryant-Pearson, for whom he subsequently arranged a parliamentary pass. This afternoon Guido can reveal that Robertson is currently employed by one of Bryant-Pearson’s biggest clients.
Robertson has been paid £10,000-a-year since 2013 for his position on the board of Veolia Environmental Services. Veolia are one of the main clients of JBP Public Relations, the lobbying company run by Bryant-Pearson. So not only did the pass-carrying lobbyist employ Robertson, her major client still does. Crucially, Robertson sponsored Bryant-Pearson for a pass while he was in the pay of her client. Robertson tells Guido:
“Ms Bryant-Pearson carried out work supporting All Party Groups, secretarial duties, publicity, arranging and attending meetings and translation services.”
Lobbyists were banned from having parliamentary passes through work on APPGs in 2013. Yet Robertson gave Bryant-Pearson a pass until 2015. Guido has asked Robertson if he denies this is a case of cash-for-access, and what “secretarial duties” this chief executive of a lobbying company carried out. He has yet to reply…
A Tory MP has given a parliamentary pass to a lobbyist who paid him thousands of pounds. Laurence Robertson, the infamous cad who employed both his wife and girlfriend on the taxpayer, has authorised access to the parliamentary estate to Jennifer Bryant-Pearson. She is the chief executive of JBP Public Relations, a lobbying firm which specialises in parliamentary affairs. Bryant-Pearson also runs a company called Westminster Parliamentary Research, which paid Robertson around £10,000 for “consultancy work” in 2010. A lobbyist lined the pockets of a serving MP, then he gave her unfettered access to the corridors of power.
As you can see below, Robertson has declared up to £10,000 in payments from Westminster Parliamentary Research, which is run by Bryant-Pearson. The register of secretaries’ interests shows Robertson then sponsored Bryant-Pearson for a parliamentary pass:
Robertson has been approached for comment. This ain’t the last you’ve heard of this one, it stinks…