The deputy chairman of the Conservative Party has admitted having an affair, after it was claimed a Tory aide tried to blackmail him over it in order to win a seat.
Rob Halfon, who is a member of the cabinet, said he was “ashamed” of the six-month affair with Alexandra Paterson, the chairman of the party’s youth wing, Conservative Future.
He admitted to the relationship after claiming Tory aide Mark Clarke tried to get footage of him leaving a club with Miss Paterson in order to blackmail him.
Mr Clarke is currently at the centre of an investigation over claims a he bullied a young activist, Elliott Johnson, who committed suicide. Breitbart London broke the sad news of Elliott’s death in September.
Mr Clarke ran the party’s Road Trip 2015 campaign to bus young activists round the country during this year’s election campaign, receiving high praise from Prime Minister David Cameron.
It is claimed Mr Clarke asked an ally to take pictures of Mr Halfon and Miss Paterson leaving the East India Club in order to blackmail Mr Halfon into helping him get a safe parliamentary seat in 2020. He had previously stood for Tooting in the 2010 General Election, but failed to win.
In a statement, Mr 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.”
Speaking on Mr Clarke, he added: “Mark Clarke is an appalling man – I wish I had never met him. I was stupid.”
One of Miss Paterson’s friends told the Daily Mail: “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.
“Alexandra became aware this summer that something very untoward was going on,” she added. “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.”
Since Mr Johnson’s death, numerous other allegations against Mr Clarke have surfaced, including sexually harassing female activists. One source told Breitbart London: “He was threatening young women, claiming that he could influence the Conservative Party’s selection process and candidates list.”
Mr Clarke has issued a statement saying: “I strongly refute any suggestion of bullying, harassment or intended/attempted blackmail.”