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Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Donal Blaney’s Pyrrhic Victory

Those getting their news from the press and broadcast media might have thought that the bullying scandal engulfing the Tory Party had gone quiet: far from it. Investigations into the death of Elliott Johnson, and the wider culture of less than upstanding and principled behaviour among those involved with The Blue Team, especially with its younger members, have continued apace. And then there is the legal argument.
One reason the Mail On Sunday’s political editor Simon Walters has taken time out from this story is that his paper has been subjected to a series of missives from Messrs Carter-Ruck, the notorious and reassuringly expensive lawyers, on behalf of one Donal Blaney, himself a solicitor, whose legal practice in Kent is also the registered office of the Thatcherite pressure group Conservative Way Forward.

It had been rumoured some weeks ago that Blaney had gone to Carter-Ruck to lean on the press; what was not known was which paper, or papers, had been targeted, or indeed what he sought to achieve by doing this. Now we know: the MoS has issued a clarification. “On December 20, in two articles under the headings ‘Bullying scandal: Another top Tory resigns’ and ‘The Tatler Tory, the youth wing godfather… and the bullying scandal poisoning Mrs Thatcher’s legacy’, we said Donal Blaney had been forced to resign in disgrace as chairman of Conservative Way Forward (CWF) because of his links to the ‘Tatler Tory’ scandal” it begins. There is more.

We would like to make clear that Mr Blaney announced he was resigning because he needed to spend increasing time in the US to take care of his sick wife and his expanding legal business there. He says he was not forced to resign in disgrace. He has said he regrets having had any involvement with Mark Clarke which he ended some time ago”.

And yet more: “In addition, Mr Blaney points out that Lord Feldman played no role in his appointment at CWF; his auction purchase of £200,000 of Thatcher memorabilia was on behalf of a client; that he spent his own money to underwrite the Young Britons’ Foundation (YBF); and that the YBF conference in December was postponed, not cancelled. We are happy to make this clear and apologise to Mr Blaney for any misunderstanding”. So Blaney got an apology.
But then the thought enters that there is no mention of damages or costs. My information is that Blaney did not get any damages from the MoS. That means he would have had to settle Carter-Ruck’s bill himself, which may have come to several thousand pounds.

On top of that, Blaney’s actions have not gone down at all well with some of those in the Conservative Party’s youth wing. One source there told Zelo Street on condition of anonymity that “Publicly celebrating trivial newspaper retractions when a young man has committed suicide is very bad taste. Before he killed himself, Elliott Johnson suffered verbal abuse and threats from Andre Walker and was made redundant by Donal Blaney as well as being bullied by Mark Clarke”. And there was more. 

Perhaps Blaney and  Walker could offer to make a donation from the Young Britons Foundation to the Johnson family and help them rebuild their lives, instead of celebrating whilst a family is in mourning at the death of their son?

Or, as it seems, perhaps not: Blaney has taken to social media, with king size onion and nanoviolin, to tell “I am grateful to Messrs Carter-Ruck for their wise counsel, and to those friends and family whose support never wavered”. Not the Johnson family, though, eh?

Note also that there is no denial of Walters’ stories concerning Blaney charging those on the receiving end of alleged bad behaviour by Mark Clarke (and others) several hundred pounds an hour for legal services. Moreover, while he wants it to be known that his involvement with Clarke was “ended some time ago”, that involvement continued well into last year, including a trip to the USA. And that Golden Dolphin award in late 2014.

It should also be noted that Blaney says he “spent his own money to underwrite the YBF”. That is not the same as paying for it full stop. There are still many questions for him and his pals to answer. And if he thinks that his action will cause Walters, who did for the hapless Aidan Burley, to desist, he’s got another think coming. There is more, much more, to come on this story, whether Donal Blaney wants that to happen or not.


Gweedo Fawkes said...

Get me a large Chablis.
They are closing in on me.

I could get the death penalty but then, I did ask for it.

I'm so stupid!

Chablis, NOW!

Anonymous said...

This looks a lot like the start of the return...


Nothing for ages then this