Today’s MoS front page splash - which even got a mention on The Andy Marr Show (tm) paper review today, thanks to Paul Waugh - is suitably graphic: “THE SEX TAPE THAT SHAMES TORY PARTY” reads the headline. The article also stresses that Clarke was still behaving in his own inimitable fashion right up to September this year - right up to the moment that Elliott Johnson’s body was discovered.
In order to get away with it, Clarke would have required the assistance, overt or otherwise, of others. So when the MoS says “The Mail on Sunday has obtained a copy of the film as part of our investigation into the scandal engulfing Clarke, who is accused of bullying a Conservative activist who later look his own life. With the consent of the victim, we are handing the sex film to police, who are to investigate”, this risks losing that focus.
Walters hints at this when he tells “The drugs ‘sting’ occurred after a party hosted by the Conservative Way Forward group on the Commons terrace on September 3. Among the guests mingling with Tory MPs was a prominent female Party official who had complained about Clarke … Also present was Andre Walker, former chief of staff to Tory MP David Morris … Walker is one of Clarke’s key Tory henchmen”.
Yes, Walker would be one of those in the firing line, as would former party chairman Grant “Spiv” Shapps. But the most obvious target for further investigation is the newly ennobled Emma Pidding, who was still happily working with Clarke, and singing his praises, right up to last August. The Tories’ own inquiry is going to interview her. What are Walters and the rest of the press pack waiting for? Just look at her effusive praise.
“A HUGE thank you to you, Mark. An inspirational team … a great team campaigning for a great candidate @michelledonelan Thanks to @MrMarkClarke for organising … It was a pleasure - as ever! … Busy day planning #Roadtrip2020 with @MrMarkClarke - exciting campaigns ahead”. And she included Clarke’s mistress: “On the way to catch up with #battlebus2015 #bestbus @indiabrummitt. I wonder if it will be cocktails or tea?”
It is rumoured that Emma Pidding not only shielded Clarke, but also tipped him off not just about all the complaints, but also exactly who was making them and the detail of their allegations. And Clarke was being tipped off as recently as September. Clarke’s lurid behaviour may make a good Sunday splash, but it should not detract from the need to hold to account all those involved - Clarke was not acting alone.