A senior British minister compared the latest scandal involving Tory candidates accused of betting on the election date to Partygate, a series of Covid-era parties that brought down Boris Johnson.

Housing minister Michael Gove compared the betting allegations to the Partygate scandal in an interview with the Times newspaper on Saturday.

"It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us... That's the most potentially damaging thing," said Gove, who is standing down this election after 14 years as an MP.

"That was damaging at the time of Partygate and is damaging here", he added.

Prime minister Johnson was forced from office in 2022 following public anger at the revelations of parties held in Downing Street when the rest of the country was under lockdown during the pandemic.

Now another senior Conservative Party figure has been caught up in the latest scandal.

The party's chief data officer, Nick Mason, has taken a leave of absence, following claims he placed bets on the timing of the election, the PA news agency reported Saturday.

Mason is being investigated by betting regulators, accused of placing dozens of bets on the election date according to the Times. He is the fourth Tory figure to be implicated in the affair.

- 'Incredibly damaging' -

The party's campaign director stepped aside following reports on Thursday that he and his wife, a Tory candidate in the July 4 election, were under investigation by the Gambling Commission.

The scandal broke a week earlier, when Tory candidate and Sunak's ministerial aide Craig Williams said he was being probed for staking a bet on the snap election date before it was called.

On Wednesday, London police said one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's security detail had been arrested for allegedly placing a bet on the date.

Sunak has said he is "incredibly angry" over the revelations.

"If anyone is found to have broken the rules, not only should they face the full consequences of the law, I will make sure that they are booted out of the Conservative Party," he said earlier this week.

Political bets are allowed in the UK, including on the date of elections, but using insider knowledge to do so is against the law.

The inquiries heap further misery on Sunak, whose party has trailed Labour by about 20 points in the polls for nearly two years, making it odds-on to be dumped out of office after 14 years.

Gove said that those involved in the betting scandal were "sucking the oxygen out of the campaign".

Comparing it to Partygate again, he added: "A few individuals end up creating an incredibly damaging atmosphere for the party.

"So it's both bad in itself, but also destructive to the efforts of all of those good people who are currently fighting hard for the Conservative vote."