Feld­man signed off £1m to help Tatler Tory’s team

Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Jack Doyle and An­drew Levy

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.

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