Feldman signed off £1m to help Tatler Tory’s team
LORD Feldman was under new pressure last night amid claims that he personally authorised payments of more than £1million that helped fund a campaign at the heart of the Tatler Tory bullying scandal.
Tory MPs were yesterday sent out to defend the party chairman, who is one of the Prime Minister’s oldest friends in politics.
But last night it emerged that he had authorised the funding of the Team 2015 activist campaign. Money from this was then given to the controversial Road Trip election campaign run by Mark Clarke, who is at the centre of the scandal.
Lord Feldman is said by party insiders to have wholeheartedly supported the Team 2015 campaign, in which his sister Deborah also played a significant role.
It will cast significant new questions over what he knew about the scandal and when. Yesterday, it was also claimed that he was warned directly about Clarke’s behaviour more than a year ago. A bombshell memo, apparently written in 2014, allegedly warned both Lord Feldman and his then cochairman Grant Shapps against bringing Clarke back into the fold, it was reported. In it, Paul Abbott, Mr Shapps’ chief of staff, set out a series complaints from activists against Clarke.
It was allegedly sent shortly after senior party figures, including Lord Feldman and Mr Shapps, approved the decision to bring Road Trip 2015, Clarke’s campaign group, into Tory HQ. Clarke was given a desk and an official position in June 2014.
The revelation came as allies of Lord Feldman denied the claims and launched a desperate last- ditch attempt to save him from the scandal. A series of loyal MPs made an apparently organised attempt to defend him on Twitter, posting positive comments within minutes of each other.
At the same time Number 10 and ministers launched a clandestine briefing operation making clear their support for him and challenging the claims against him.
But yesterday morning, George Osborne declined to say he had full confidence in the peer. Instead the Chancellor said only that he was a ‘person of real integrity’.
Lord Feldman has said he was ‘wholly unaware’ of the allegations against Clarke until August of this year. Yesterday his allies briefed the Spectator magazine that it was Mr Shapps who ran the party’s ground campaign – laying the blame for Clarke’s activities squarely at his door.