Scottish Daily Mail

My af­fair shame, by min­is­ter who Cameron’s aide ‘tried to black­mail’

Tory’s ri­val was also linked to ac­tivist’s sui­cide

- By Ta­mara Cohen and An­drew Levy t.cohen@dai­ly­

A RIS­ING star of David Cameron’s Cab­i­net sen­sa­tion­ally ad­mit­ted to an af­fair yes­ter­day – af­ter it was claimed that one of the Prime Min­is­ter’s elec­tion aides had tried to black­mail him over it.

Robert Hal­fon, a 46-year-old min­is­ter with­out port­fo­lio, said he felt ‘ashamed’ of hav­ing a six-month re­la­tion­ship be­hind his long-term part­ner’s back.

The af­fair was with PR ex­ec­u­tive Alexandra Pater­son, 30, who is chair­man of the Con­ser­va­tive party’s youth wing and met Mr Hal­fon through party cam­paign events last year.

Mr Hal­fon, known as a con­sumer cham­pion, ad­mit­ted his in­fi­delity to Down­ing Street af­ter claim­ing Tory di­rec­tor Mark Clarke tried to get film of him leav­ing a Lon­don club with Miss Pater­son.

Clarke, who was nick­named the ‘Tatler Tory’ af­ter he was tipped as fu­ture Cab­i­net min­is­ter by the so­ci­ety mag­a­zine, is at the cen­tre of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion over claims he bul­lied Tory ac­tivist El­liott John­son, 21, who com­mit­ted sui­cide in Septem­ber.

Last night, it emerged that Miss Pater­son had been warned that an par­lia­men­tary re­searcher ally of Clarke was plan­ning to get pic­tures of the couple leav­ing the East In­dia Club, where Mr Hal­fon stays three nights a week while he is in Lon­don.

She is un­der­stood to have stayed there with him at the club, which he is en­ti­tled to claim on Par­lia­men­tary ex­penses, while Mr Hal­fon’s part­ner of six years, Vanda Colombo, re­mained in their home in his Har­low con­stituency. The af­fair ended in May, shortly af­ter the Gen­eral Elec­tion when he was pro­moted to the Cab­i­net and called it off.

In a state­ment re­leased by the Con­ser­va­tive Party yes­ter­day, Mr

‘Her life is in tat­ters’

Hal­fon said: ‘What I did was wrong, and I feel ashamed. I am not proud of my­self. The most im­por­tant thing to me is to con­tinue to re­pair my re­la­tion­ship with my part­ner.’

He told a Sun­day news­pa­per he had kept quiet about the al­leged threat un­til Mr John­son’s death. He said: ‘Mark Clarke is an ap­palling man – I wish I had never met him. I was stupid.’

Miss Pater­son did not wish to com­ment last night. But a close friend said her life was ‘in tat­ters’.

She said: ‘Alexandra and Rob were in a re­la­tion­ship and she cared about him very much, but when he was made a Cab­i­net min­is­ter af­ter the elec­tion it all be­came very com­pli­cated and they de­cided not to con­tinue it.

‘They are both adults, nei­ther of them are mar­ried and she un­der­stood his de­ci­sion to call it off. She wishes him all the best.

‘Alexandra be­came aware this sum­mer that some­thing very un­to­ward was go­ing on. Mark Clarke had asked one of his hench­men – a very strange and twisted young man – to stand out­side the East In­dia Club to try and get a pic­ture of them leav­ing to­gether.

‘I be­lieve he did do that, in or­der to black­mail Rob and try and some­how get him­self back on the can­di­dates’ list.

‘Mark is an ap­palling in­di­vid­ual who will do any­thing to ad­vance his ca­reer, in­clud­ing bul­ly­ing peo­ple to get his way. Alexandra feels her life is in tat­ters. She will lose her job and her ca­reer in the party is fin­ished. Mark has ex­ploited her.’

Mr Hal­fon, who was born with mild cere­bral palsy, walks us­ing crutches and is en­ti­tled to a dis­abil­ity al­lowance.

He has said the East In­dia Club is cheaper than ho­tels in cen­tral Lon­don. A re­ceipt last year showed he paid £400 for a four-night stay paid for us­ing the al­lowance.

Clarke, 38, an ex­ec­u­tive with Unilever who is mar­ried with two chil­dren, said last night: ‘I strongly re­fute any sug­ges­tion of bul­ly­ing, ha­rass­ment or in­tended/at­tempted black­mail.’

A par­lia­men­tary can­di­date in 2010, Clarke ran the Road Trip 2015 cam­paign to bus Tory activists around the coun­try, which was praised by Mr Cameron. But since Mr John­son’s death, he has been hit by fur­ther com­plaints, in­clud­ing that he had planned to use sex and drugs smears against ri­vals and ran a smear cam­paign against his lo­cal hos­pi­tal.

A Con­ser­va­tive Party spokesman said it had re­ceived a se­ri­ous com­plaint against Clarke re­lat­ing to the death of Mr John­son. Lord Feld­man, the party chair­man, is in­ves­ti­gat­ing that com­plaint and Clarke’s mem­ber­ship of the party has been sus­pended.

The spokesman said: ‘If the al­le­ga­tions against Mr Clarke are found to be true, the party board will per­ma­nently ex­clude Mr Clarke from the party.’

 ??  ?? Claims: Robert Hal­fon and Alexan­dra Pater­son, above and cir­cled left, say they were threat­ened with black­mail by Mark Clarke, also cir­cled
Claims: Robert Hal­fon and Alexan­dra Pater­son, above and cir­cled left, say they were threat­ened with black­mail by Mark Clarke, also cir­cled
 ??  ?? Com­plaints: Mark Clarke
Com­plaints: Mark Clarke
 ??  ?? Sui­cide: El­liott John­son
Sui­cide: El­liott John­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK