Betting on Boothroyd successor suspended

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The race to succeed Betty Boothroyd as Speaker of the House of Commons was thrown into controversy yesterday when betting on the contest was suspended after a rash of heavy bets on one of her deputies.

The race to succeed Betty Boothroyd as Speaker of the House of Commons was thrown into controversy yesterday when betting on the contest was suspended after a rash of heavy bets on one of her deputies.

The bookmaker William Hill decided to act because a number of undisclosed sums were placed on Michael Martin, MP for Glasgow Springburn, late last week. Just before suspending the book, the firm had been forced to slash his odds from 20-1 to 3-1 and then to7-4 because of the amount of money being put behind him.

Miss Boothroyd, who will make her resignation speech today, surprised MPs earlier this month when she announced her intention to stand down at the end of summer, triggering a race to choose her successor before the next general election.

A spokeswoman for William Hill was unable to say how much money had been placed on Mr Martin, but said the company hoped to reopen betting "in the next couple of days".

Despite the shortening of the odds, however, another deputy speaker, the Tory Sir Alan Haselhurst, was favourite to succeed Betty Boothroyd. He was quoted at 5-4 against.

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