And Clarke, despite his denials, is at the centre of the scandal, after Johnson accused him of bullying, and many others then endorsed those claims. Semple has refused to recuse himself from the inquiry, and has also asserted that he and Clarke are no longer close. But then, the Sun’s alleged “Westminster Correspondent” Harry Cole also claimed to have fallen out with Clarke, with whom he had been very close friends, only for some items that must have come from Clarke’s personal correspondence to turn up in Cole’s Sun articles.
Those thus favoured, it was alleged, included Mark Clarke. And it seems the Tories’ problem with casual use of information is still around, as Eimhear MacFarlane has told: “I was a bit upset to get three separate emails last night where it was quite clear that my data had been harvested from one source (namely the Conservative Future membership database) and used by individuals for a purpose for which it was not intended”.