Mark Clarke, India Brummitt, Grant Shapps and Emma Pidding. This photo is being used by the press in an edited form - the editing being to remove Ms Pidding
Little, though, was done to pull the threads together in order to give a coherent view of just who was involved - until today, by Simon Hattenstone at the Guardian, with the clear approval of Johnson’s parents. Those involved to a greater or lesser extent with the now disgraced Mark Clarke are interviewed, profiled and their litany of variously lame excuses analysed - except for one. And it is an important one.
Mark Clarke (top right) with his right hand on the left shoulder of Paul Abbott. Also note Harry Cole at front middle
Paul Abbott: formerly Grant Shapps’ chief of staff, now desperately trying to pretend that he too had reservations about Clarke. It won’t wash. Abbott, as can be seen from the post-cricket match photo taken recently at Didcot Parkway station, had no problem with being in Clarke’s company. And he has one very serious charge to answer.
Donal Blaney seemingly not being repulsed by the presence of Mark Clarke and André Walker
Donal Blaney: the founder of the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF) has been frantically erasing all reference to Mark Clarke from the YBF website. This, too, will not wash. Clarke was awarded the YBF’s highest honour, the Golden Dolphin award, which was in the personal gift of Blaney. He, too, as the photo shows, had no problem being in Clarke’s company. His excuses are craven in the extreme.
In case anyone forgot: Elliott Johnson seen in happier times. Mark Clarke is there again
All of which brings us to Harry Cole. Hattenstone does not mention Staines’ former sidekick, so let me put all concerned straight. Cole, now at the Sun, has like the others been advancing the pretence of faux horror at news of bullying which he almost certainly knew about all along. Sun editor Tony Gallagher may think he has an inside track on the Tory Party’s goings-on via his “Westminster Correspondent”. He has been duped.
This group photo from YBF XI was formerly used as a Twitter background, but has now been removed. Easily identified are Donal Blaney, Grant Shapps ... and Mark Clarke. Also at left can be seen Alexandra Paterson ... and Elliott Johnson
And then we come to another singularly unsavoury character not picked up on directly by Hattenstone, Paul Staines. What contact did he have with Elliott Johnson, if any, in those last fateful 48 hours? Johnson talked of betrayal. Was the meeting with “Guido” part of that? Did it not happen at all? I do not expect Staines to answer anything I put to him, but with the certainty of night following day, someone else will put the question later.
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