Olympian Tory James Cracknell brands the party a 'shower of s**t' (2024)

By David Wilco*ck, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline

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Olympic rowing gold medal-winner James Cracknell has branded the Conservatives a 'shower of s**t', just days before he will try to become one of the party's MPs.

The former sportsman, 52, lashed out in a weekend campaign video amid the growing furore over bets allegedly placed by senior Tory candidates and officials on the date of the election.

In a video posted to Facebook and Instagram he angrily said that if he caught a teammate cheating 'they would be dead to me', branding such an abuse of trust as 'unforgivable'.

The faltering Conservative campaign has been plunged into a deeper crisis by the gambling controversy, over which four Tory officials and candidates are being investigated.

The party's chief data officer Nick Mason is the latest figure understood to be taking a leave of absence, amid claims he placed bets on the election date, along with director of campaigning Tony Lee.

Mr Lee's would-be MP wife Laura Saunders and fellow candidate Craig Williams, who was a parliamentary aide to the Prime Minister, are also under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

Harkening back to his former career Mr Cracknell, who took gold in the coxless fours in Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004, said:'Two weeks out from the Olympics, if we are competing against the Conservative Party my teammates and I would be saying they are a shower of s**t.'

The former sportsman, 52, lashed out in a weekend campaign video amid the growing furore over bets allegedly placed by senior Tory candidates and officials on the date of the election.

He also tore into the party in reply to messages left on the video that he posted on Saturday, saying: 'Who knows who will be leading the party come July 5.'

Harkening back to his former career Mr Cracknell, who took gold in the coxless fours in Sydney in 2000 (pictured, centre right) and Athens in 2004, said: 'Two weeks out from the Olympics, if we are competing against the Conservative Party my teammates and I would be saying they are a shower of s**t.'

He also tore into the party in reply to messages left on the video, first reported by the Guardian, that he posted on Saturday, saying: 'Who knows who will be leading the party come July 5.'

He added that those under investigation should be suspended, adding: 'I have Conservative values at heart but will not defend poor behaviour, lack of integrity or wrong decisions.'

PM Rishi Sunak has said he is 'not aware' of any other Tory candidates facing investigation by the Gambling Commission over allegations of betting on the General Election.

The Prime Minister said the Conservatives had been carrying out an 'internal' probe and 'will act' if it finds any wrongdoing over the scandal that has engulfed the party in recent days.

He added that those under investigation should be suspended, adding: 'I have Conservative values at heart but will not defend poor behaviour, lack of integrity or wrong decisions.'

With the Tories still behind in the polls and after a bruising few days dominated by the controversy, Mr Sunak is facing pressure, including from the party ranks, to take a tougher stance against those involved.

'(The Gambling Commission) don't talk about the individuals that they are investigating,' the Prime Minister told journalists on the campaign trail in Edinburgh on Monday.

'What I can tell you is I am not aware of any other candidate that they are looking at.'

He added: 'What I can tell you is, in parallel we've been conducting our own internal inquiries and of course will act on any relevant findings or information from that and pass it on to the Gambling Commission.'

Mr Sunak ruled out himself and family members of being the subject of investigation and said he had never placed a bet on politics while serving as an MP.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris rejected calls, including from within Tory ranks, for those facing a probe to have the party whip withdrawn while it is ongoing.

'I think what you're trying to suggest is that someone is guilty until they're proven innocent and that is not how this works,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, when asked why tougher action had not been taken.

Tobias Ellwood on Monday joined a growing chorus of senior Tory voices calling for the Prime Minister to take action.

The Conservative candidate for Bournemouth East said the scandal was a 'deeply unhelpful, self-inflicted distraction' and suggested Mr Sunak should have suspended those being investigated.

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Olympian Tory James Cracknell brands the party a 'shower of s**t' (2024)
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