Minister Warned CCHQ About Rape Arrest Aide

armstrong

CCHQ were warned months ago that they should sack Sam Armstrong, the Tory aide who has been arrested over an alleged rape in the Commons. Back in June Rob Halfon appealed to Lord Feldman to remove Armstrong from his job with South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay. Halfon told Feldman that Armstrong had attempted to blackmail him – something Armstrong denies – and said it was “ridiculous” that he was still being employed. Despite this, and despite the Tories banning Armstrong from party conference last year, they allowed Mackinlay keep him on the payroll and give him a parliamentary pass. Why did Mackinlay keep Armstrong in a job? Why did Feldman fail to act? Armstrong would of course have known a lot about the South Thanet general election campaign’s expenses – which is also currently under police investigation. This has the potential to blow up in CCHQ’s faces…

CCHQ’s Battle Bus Guidance Revealed

battlebus

Where do the Tories stand on the election fraud scandal? They are bang to rights on failing to declare £38,000 of hotel bills for Tory activists, blaming an “administrative error”. The issue of transport – the fabled “battle buses” – is contested. There are three outcomes here. Are CCHQ right when they say they’ve done nothing wrong? Did they breach the rules on national and local spending? Or was there a conspiracy to hide spending from the official declarations?

Leaked emails reveal CCHQ told their local campaign teams that the cost of hotels and battle buses would be “accounted for out of central campaign spend”. It stressed transport within the seat was not included: “For legal reasons the Battlebus cannot ferry people around the seat”.

The arrangement had the “personal sponsorship” of Grant Shapps, was “signed off” by Lynton Crosby, Stephen Gilbert and Lord Feldman, and was “supported by Deborah Feldman’s Team in CCHQ“. That’s Lord Feldman’s sister.

The good news for the Tories is this shows they did see battle buses as part of the national campaign all along, and demonstrates they were taking steps to abide by spending laws. So they can argue there wasn’t a conspiracy to hide the cash. The bad news? If the cops find it should have gone down as local spend, the party chairman and his sister are implicated…

Shapps Throws Feldman Under the Battle Bus

The Tory election expenses scandal is ramping up a notch. Grant Shapps made it crystal clear on the Daily Politics which of the two Tory co-chairman was responsible:

“I can tell you absolutely that compliance was not my area… compliance wasn’t my side of things, campaigning side was my side of things but not the money or the finance”

Asked who was responsible, Shapps replied: “Other people at CCHQ”. The co-chairman in charge of the other “side of things” was Lord Feldman…

Meanwhile the Electoral Commission is meeting with the CPS and police today to decide on applying to extend the limit on prosecuting election expense allegations. Stay tuned…

Feldman Gets Cricked

An out of breath Michael Crick at his best…

Feldman ‘Given Clarke Dossier in 2010’

More evidence has emerged seeming to contradict Lord Feldman’s claim that he was “wholly unaware” of bullying allegations against Mark Clarke before August 2015. Newsnight say Tory MP Ben Howlett, then a young party activist, handed a dossier of bullying allegations – including claims against Clarke – to Feldman and Sayeeda Warsi in 2010. This appears to finally explain what Howlett meant when he said Feldman had known about Clarke “for a very long period of time”. Howlett himself is still staying silent. If Feldman was really handed a dossier containing claims about Clarke in 2010, why did he say he was “wholly unaware” before August 2015?

This Facebook post from former CCHQ aide Michael Lunn is also curious. Lunn was seen as a fixer for Conservative Future in Tory HQ between 2007 and 2010. Guido is told that he dealt with complaints about Clarke as far back as 2008. His testimony would surely show that CCHQ knew about the claims against Clarke for years, yet for some strange reason the Tories’ own internal inquiry failed to call him. Despite Feldman’s claims to the contrary, more and more evidence is coming to light that he and CCHQ knew about Clarke not for months, but for years…

Feldman’s Record Breaking Disapproval Swing

Beleagured Lord Feldman’s Tory bullying troubles have not gone unnoticed among party members. The Tory chairman has suffered a record-breaking 53 point drop in his net satisfaction rating among ConHome readers, the largest one month fall ever recorded. He is also the first to have a negative approval rating this parliament. ‘Red Hot’ Rob Halfon also took a battering and is down to second from bottom. How’s that whole buck-stopping-with-Shapps thing working out for ya?

Tory MP Fails Five Times to Clarify Feldman Claim

12 days ago, Tory MP Ben Howlett disputed Lord Feldman’s claim that he was “wholly unaware” of the Mark Clarke allegations prior to August, insisting his party chairman “has been well aware of all of this for a very long period of time”. Howlett made the claim in a Newsnight interview pre-recorded before CCHQ released Feldman’s line, but aired afterwards. At the time Howlett was seen as a whistleblower bravely speaking out against his party.

It would seem from his Newsnight interview that Howlett has information that could clear up whether or not Feldman misled the public. Guido contacted him on five separate occasions yesterday, politely asking for a quick clarification of why he believed Feldman had known of allegations against Clarke “for a very long period of time”. Howlett read the messages, but failed to respond. He did however find the time to visit a ‘gin bar’ in his constituency.

Is Howlett being lent on to keep silent and protect Feldman, or was his initial allegation incorrect? Why, after bravely speaking out two weeks ago, is he now refusing to clear up this crucial point once and for all? Hardly encouraging when there are already allegations of a cover up. Either Lord Feldman and Ben Howlett is not telling the truth. Which is it?

Pannick Stations at CCHQ

Following the meeting of the Tory party management board this afternoon, the party has u-turned and handed over full control of the investigation into the bullying scandal to Clifford Chance. In other words they have finally agreed to let it be independent. They will offer second interviews to those who have already spoken to the party’s initial investigation, while Feldman and Halfon will recuse themselves from the board meeting that discusses the report. Crossbencher Lord Pannick QC will review the whole process. Pannick stations!

Tory MPs’ Co-ordinated Defence of Feldman

Within the space of 60 seconds, three Tory MPs have tweeted almost word-for-word identical defences of under-fire Lord Feldman. Almost as if they were co-ordinated…

UPDATE: And another two!

Could CCHQ be any more transparent?

UPDATE II: And still they come…

Poll: Should Feldman Resign?

This is of course an unrepresentative online poll, however if it is good enough for Corbyn to decide if the nation should go to war, it is good enough to decide if someone should resign…

Dynamite Memo Warned Feldman About Clarke in Summer 2014

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…

Feldman Warns Tories to Hide Passes in Manchester

Tory party chairman Lord Feldman has emailed Tory MPs and members warning them to hide their passes when outside the conference secure zone in Manchester. Feldman warns “it will be particularly important” not to wear the passes during the TUC’s anti-austerity march on Sunday. Guido has the email:

Dear xxxxxx,

I am looking forward to welcoming you to our Party Conference in Manchester next week.

For the first time in almost two decades, we have a Conservative Prime Minister at the Cabinet table, surrounded only by Conservative Ministers. I’m delighted that we will have more members and activists with us; with 30% more than the last time we met in Manchester.

You may be aware that a protest march planned by the TUC will take place Sunday 4th October to coincide with the start of our Conference. The march will pass close to the Conference venues and I wanted to let you know that there may be road closures and potentially some local travel disruption on the day. Please allow for additional time for journeys to the Conference venues between 12.00 and 16.00. It will be particularly important not to wear your Conference security passes outside the secure zone. I am, as ever, grateful to Greater Manchester Police for all their efforts to put in place measures to secure the smooth running of Conference.

Andrew Feldman
Conservative Party Chairman

Seems “the kinder, new politics” means Tories have to hide their identities from Corbynistas in the steet…

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