Lord Feldman’s line since he was dragged into the Tory bullying scandal has been that he was “wholly unaware” of allegations against Mark Clarke until August 2015. On 18 November, a Conservative spokesman said:
“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.”
On 22 November, Feldman himself told the Mail on Sunday:
“I was wholly unaware of allegations of bullying and inappropriate sexual conduct by Mr Clarke prior to August 2015”
Does this stand up to scrutiny?
Feldman received a memo detailing a series of complaints about Mark Clarke in summer 2014. In the memo, Paul Abbott, chief of staff to Grant Shapps, warned Feldman about Clarke’s behaviour. Crucially, Abbott told Feldman that Clarke should not be employed by CCHQ. Instead of heeding this warning, Feldman and Shapps told Abbott that Clarke’s appointment was proving successful and he should “make it work“. This dynamite memo blows apart Feldman’s repeated on-the-record insistence that he was “wholly unaware” of complaints about Clarke before August 2015.
Tory MP Ben Howlett told Newsnight‘s report into the Tory bullying scandal that “Lord Feldman has been well aware of all of this for a very long period of time”. The key question Clifford Chance should ask the Tory party chairman is:
- Why did Lord Feldman insist he was “wholly unaware” of the allegations before August 2015, despite Ben Howlett’s testimony that his party chairman knew “for a very long period of time” – and despite Feldman receiving complaints about Clarke in summer 2014?
On Saturday, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said he had “full confidence” in Lord Feldman. That’s what they said about Shapps 48 hours before he quit…