‘In 2014, Grant Shapps questioned Mark Clarke to work in conjunction with the Party’s Staff 2015,’ read a Conservative party assertion. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Pictures
The Tory election aide at the centre of new allegations of tried blackmail and bullying was personally brought on board by former chairman Grant Shapps, the Conservative social gathering has unveiled.
The party has been investigating Mark Clarke considering that just before the death in September of youthful activist Elliott Johnson, who is believed to have killed himself and experienced accused Clarke of bullying.
Since then, a amount of whistleblowers have appear ahead to allege that Clarke, who ran the RoadTrip2015 marketing campaign that bussed young activists about the place, was engaged in inappropriate conduct. Robert Halfon, the deputy chairman of the party, was warned prior to the election that Clarke could consider to blackmail him about an affair with a Tory activist.
Ben Howlett, a Conservative MP, also told BBC Newsnight this 7 days that he experienced warned about Clarke’s behaviours and felt personally bullied in a way that afflicted his health.
Clarke, who ran unsuccessfully in the 2010 election from Labour’s Sadiq Khan in Tooting, south London, was praised for his work for the RoadTrip2015 campaign by David Cameron in the course of the 2015 election, but he was expelled from the celebration this 7 days and banned for life.
In reaction to the latest allegations, a Conservative spokeswoman unveiled a lengthy assertion that reveals Shapps brought Clarke on board in 2014, in a move that will increase force on the Tory chairman to clarify no matter whether he experienced ever been mindful of any of the issues.
The get together also mentioned it will question an unbiased attorney from the law company Clifford Likelihood to review its inquiry.
“After the Basic Election in 2010 all candidates on the old accredited record ended up questioned to re-utilize for the new listing,” said the statement. “Those who used have been interviewed by an evaluation panel and a suggestion was put to the Candidates Committee. Numerous hundred candidates ended up not invited again on to the record, such as Mark Clarke.”
“Mark Clarke set up RoadTrip2015 on his own initiative to campaign in key constituencies in the run up to the General Election. In 2014, Grant Shapps asked Mark Clarke to operate in conjunction with the Party’s Crew 2015 (the Party’s very own volunteer activist organisation).
“We have been unable to discover any created grievances of bullying, harassment or any other inappropriate conduct for the duration of this period that had been not dealt with … The Get together is continuing with its internal inquiry which commenced in August 2015 in response to a official grievance, gained by Lord Feldman, about the conduct of Mark Clarke.
“Once this method is finished, Lord Feldman has requested Simon Davis, a Senior Spouse at Clifford Possibility LLP, to guarantee that the investigation has been extensive and full. The Social gathering Board will then think about the evidence and decide on the acceptable program of action.
“We would inspire any likely witnesses to proceed to come ahead, and request that any evidence of created issues or other relevant substance be created offered to the Get together so that we can keep on with our investigation and complete it properly.”
Clarke has beforehand launched a statement expressing: “I think that these fake allegations and this media firestorm are relevant to the activities surrounding Elliott’s unfortunate demise. As such I will be co-operating with the coroner and supplying him with the fullest data. This is the correct procedure. Right after the inquest I will search to consider legal motion for defamation in regard of these allegations.”
Elliott Johnson, a Nottingham College graduate who labored for the campaign group Conservative Way Forward, was located lifeless on railway tracks at Sandy station, in Bedfordshire, on fifteen September. Johnson had made a official complaint to the get together about Clarke ahead of his death.