Tory MP Ben Howlett cast doubt on his party chairman’s version of events during Newsnight’s investigation into the Mark Clarke bullying scandal. This is CCHQ’s official line on when Lord Feldman first knew of the allegations:
“Lord Feldman acted immediately to set up an internal disciplinary inquiry as soon as he received the allegations in August 2015, of which he was previously wholly unaware.”
Yet Howlett claims Feldman knew of complaints against Clarke for a “long period” before then:
“We’ve complained about him for a long period of time… I complained when I was national chairman directly to Sayeeda Warsi as the party chairman, I complained directly to the chairman’s office when Grant Shapps took over as the party chairman, and I have to say Lord Feldman has been well aware of all of this for a very long period of time”
Either Feldman was “wholly unaware” of the allegations before August, or a Tory MP is slandering him. One of Howlett or Feldman must not be telling the truth…
Shapps is being lined up as CCHQ’s fall guy, though his chairmanship ceased in May so that does not explain the Tories’ continued support for Clarke throughout the summer. It is claimed that Tory deputy chairman and Cameron aide Stephen Gilbert, who is in charge of campaigning in CCHQ, even arranged for the Prime Minister to attend a party at their Manchester conference in celebration of Clarke’s RoadTrip organisation. When the Elliott Johnson scandal broke, the party was cancelled. RoadTrip have now been blacklisted by CCHQ.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Future national executive has been suspended by CCHQ. That includes Rob Halfon’s lover Alexandra Paterson, as well as Stephen Canning, India Brummitt (Clarke’s long term mistress), Annabel Shaw, Chris Rowell, Mahyar Tousi* and Eleanor Vesey-Thompson and Hannah Rawbone. Scandalous photos of several members of the national executive are in circulation.
The following questions remian unanswered: what did Feldman, Warsi, Shapps and Gilbert know – and when – and why were the complaints against Clarke not acted upon?
*Mahyar tells Guido he resigned last month.