New Claim that Complaint Information was “Leaked” to Mark Clarke

From the Telegraph:

A Tory aide accused of bullying and sexual harassment allegedly confronted a second reported victim after being “leaked” details of an internal Conservative inquiry.

Mark Clarke approached the person at a party just hours after they made a formal complaint against him, claiming he knew the names of others who had also expressed concerns, it has been claimed.

…The second alleged victim claims Mr Clarke was given the information about their complaint by a senior Conservative party source within CCHQ.

..A Conservative spokesman said: “It is not correct that the names of complainants were leaked by the Party; if names were leaked by anyone else, the Party will take all necessary steps to find out how that occurred.”

That spokesman’s quote should ring alarm bells. Obviously, the “alleged victim” is suggesting that the “senior Conservative party source” acted improperly, not that this was an official act by “the Party”. To begin a response with “It is not correct” is a lame attempt to suggest that the “alleged victim” has said something doubtful, while diverting attention away from anything of substance.

How can we have any confidence that the Party “will take all necessary steps” when its default position is such an obvious mix of studied obtuseness and glib complacency? It seems to me that this is just further evidence that complaining to CCHQ about bullying risks escalating attacks, and that there needs to be an independent enquiry. Details about a petition calling for this can be found here.

UPDATE: Hours before a report on Newsnight, the Conservative Party announced that Clarke had been expelled “for life”. Ben Howlett MP, who was formerly chair of Conservative Future, says that complaints about Clarke go back to 2010, but that successive chairs had failed to act:

Mr Howlett said: “We’ve complained about him [Clarke] for a long period of time, and it’s not just him, it was people that were attributed to him as well.

“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 this, for a very long period of time.”

Asked about Mr Howlett’s claims, the party said Lord Feldman was not aware of allegations against Clarke until August 2015 when he “acted immediately to set up an internal disciplinary inquiry”.

A Conservative spokesperson said on Tuesday night: “We have been checking and rechecking, but have not been able to find any records of complaints that were made but not dealt with – but we are determined to get to the bottom of what’s happened.”

***

Background

Allegations against Clarke have been piling up since September, following the death of a young Conservative activist named Elliott Johnson. Johnson had made a complaint of bullying by Clarke to the party chairman, Lord Feldman, after which he was confronted by Clarke in a pub and pressured to withdraw it. Johnson named Clarke in a note which came to light after Johnson was found dead on a railway track; the tragedy is being reported as suicide, although his family think he may have changed his mind at the last moment but was unable to move out of the way of an oncoming train in time.

Breitbart London subsequently reported:

Breitbart London can exclusively reveal that a number of Conservative activists have now come forward with allegations that Mr Clarke had also attempted to bully them. One source told us this afternoon: “He was threatening young women, claiming that he could influence the Conservative Party’s selection process and candidates list.” 

…An e-mail from an unrelated incident clearly shows Mr Clarke allegedly demanding the attendance of a young activist at Tory Central Office, for an issue allegedly unrelated to the Conservative Party. Mr Clarke wrote in August last year: “I am a Director in CCHQ. Do you understand this simple fact? I am telling you that we want to have a meeting with you. A member of my team, who is also a staff member in CCHQ and reports into the Chairman’s office asked you to attend.”

…Further to this, Mr Clarke is alleged to have written: “I am a Director in CCHQ. I report into the Party Chairman directly…”

…This e-mail may raise questions as to whether or not Mr Clarke was directed by the party chairman at the time, Grant Shapps, to act in such a manner.

So far, this isn’t something that Shapps (whose own integrity is questionable) has felt the need to clarify.

In May, Ben Harris-Quinney, who was suspended from the Conservative Party for suggesting tactical voting for UKIP,  told the Spectator that “there have been a number of online articles over the past few weeks that are inaccurate and clearly designed to defame my character, this organised campaign appears to have strong links to Conservative Central Office”; as the controversy around Clarke grew he told the Sunday Times that Clarke had warned him after a clash that “attacks would be widespread, that would come from a number of anonymous individuals and I would not be able to pin it down on anyone at Conservative Central Office.”

A further particularly audacious allegation came to light over the weekend; the Mail on Sunday broke the story:

The Tories were rocked by a new scandal last night after a Cabinet Minister confessed to an affair after being told he faced a blackmail plot by a senior aide to David Cameron.

The Minister informed No 10 he had been told Tory director Mark Clarke intended to film him and his female lover leaving a London club where they met for trysts.

He ended the six-month affair in May, the same month in which his lover, who holds a high profile Conservative post, was tipped off about the alleged blackmail plot.

…A well-placed source said: ‘They were going to send the incriminating photo to the Minister in a plain manila envelope so they could blackmail him,’ said the source. ‘Clarke wanted political favours.’

The minister was subsequently named as Robert Halfon. Blackmailing a cabinet minister is an incredibly serious matter – it’s not just illegal, it has potential security ramifications. Would a young Tory aide really have planned such a reckless escapade on his own initiative? And what kind of “political favours” would Halfon be in a position to provide?

Other allegations around Clarke are more sordid: there are claims of predatory sexual behaviour (“Two… women say that he bragged of using alcohol to make women sleep with him, calling it his ‘IIP’ technique: ‘Isolate, Inebriate and Penetrate”), and of another blackmail plot which involved attempting “to leak a video of another Tory rival duped into performing a lewd sex act in a film sent to a fake website in the name of a French woman.”

Clarke has denied all the allegations, and claims that he is being targeted for attempting to expose drug use among Conservative activists.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *