“Tatler Tory” Mark Clarke was used by senior advisors close to the Prime Minister to block the rise of a young Conservative Party activist, according to new claims.
Leaked emails seen by The Sun newspaper suggest Paul Abbott, who worked as Chief of Staff to Deputy Chairman Grant Shapps, was tasked with dealing with activist Liam Walker to stop him running for the chairmanship of the party’s youth wing.
Mr Abbott then passed the orders on to Mark Clarke, who allegedly sent a “menacing” Facebook message to Mr Walker.
Mr Clarke was expelled from the Conservative Party last month following a string of bullying allegations. Mr Abbott has previously claimed he tried to warn the party about Mr Clarke’s behaviour and had made an official complaint about him back in 2014.
According to the emails, three senior Downing Street operatives – Catherine Fall, Lawrence Mann and Oliver Dowden (who is now an MP) – colluded to stop Mr Walker.
On 8 August 2014, Mr Mann wrote an email describing Mr Walker as a “nightmare”.
“We have had so many problems with him over the years. I’ll tell you about the Twitter abuse in person!
“PM very much aware of him. We have had so many reasons for throwing him out of the Party over the years, we really should bite the bullet and do it soon.”
“Can we find fresh reason before he becomes head of CF !!” Ms Fall replied.
Mr Dowden suggested the issue be passed to Grant Shapps and his team. It was then that Mr Abbott allegedly sent the orders on the Mark Clarke, despite knowing about his past behaviour.
Mr Clarke sent Mr Walker a Facebook message and then constructed a formal complaint against him, accusing him of bringing the party into disrepute.
Mr Walker told the BBC this week about bullying within the party: “I think it’s probably more of a culture of intimidation. I’m specifically talking about Mark Clarke.
“The first time I came across him was when he approached me about standing in Conservative Future elections in 2014.
“I was quite aggressive in my response because I was slightly confused to why a 37 year old man was interested in Conservative Future.”
A Downing Street spokesman said last night: “We had no knowledge that Mark Clarke would be involved.”
Mr Clarke worked closely with Mr Shapps and Mr Abbott in coordinating the Road Trip 2015 campaign that bused young party activists around the country during this year’s General Election.
He denies all the allegations against him.