Conservative Party chairman Lord Feldman is under pressure to resign as calls for an independent inquiry into the bullying and blackmail scandal that has rocked the Tories continue to grow.
In recent days, more allegations of misconduct among senior activists in the party have surfaced, leading some to suggest that in his role as chairman Feldman should take the blame for the scandal and either resign or be sacked by David Cameron.
Paul Goodman, the editor of website ConservativeHome, and a former Tory MP, wrote in a blog post on Sunday that blame for the scandal should rest with Feldman.
One Conservative MP who spoke anonymously to the BBC, said that Feldman will have to resign, while another described the 49-year-old’s position “untenable.”
On Monday afternoon Feldman, who is a close friend of the prime minister, was scheduled to chair a Tory board meeting. The Guardian reports that a full independent inquiry into the scandal will be discussed during the meeting.
The party is currently conducting an inquiry that will be overseen by law firm Clifford Chance, but will ultimately be undertaken by Conservative party officials. The Tories said over the weekend that Feldman will be one of around 40 witnesses to be questioned. However, the findings of this inquiry aren’t expected until 2016.
While the internal investigation goes on, some are calling for an independent inquiry. Ray Johnson — the father of young Tory activist Elliott Johnson, whose apparent suicide in September sparked the bullying scandal — is leading the calls. Last week, he told the BBC’s Newsnight he doesn’t believe that an internal investigation is good enough.
“I can’t see how their inquiry can have any veracity at all… I complained that an inquiry run by themselves without independent oversight can’t possibly be considered to be valid,” he told the programme.
The expulsion from the party of former activist Mark Clarke is at the centre of the scandal surrounding the Tories. Clarke was kicked out after being accused of bullying and blackmailing party activists during this year’s general election campaign.
Johnson is said to have left a voice recording of Clarke blackmailing him about a mistake he had made regarding election law. Clarke has also been accused of blackmailing a Tory aide about an alleged affair with a married MP.
It was initially believed that no official complaints had been made against Clarke, but on Friday it was revealed that Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi sent a formal complaint letter about Clarke, seen by many as a rising Conservative star, to party co-chairman Grant Shapps in January 2015.
When formal complaints were first made against Clarke is one of the key questions Lord Feldman is facing. Feldman claims that he first found out about the alleged bullying in August, but Tory MP Ben Howlett told Newsnight that Shapps had known about the accusations against Clarke for “a very long period of time.”
If Feldman does resign he will become the second senior Tory to do so over the scandal following Shapps’ decision to stand down as International Development Minister.
Shapps hired Clarke as leader of the Tories RoadTrip 2015 campaign and said on Saturday that “the buck should stop with me” over the bullying allegations.
On Monday Chancellor George Osborne stopped short of completely backing Feldman, telling Sky News: “Andrew Feldman is an outstanding chairman of the Conservative Party. He’s also a person of real integrity.”
Osborne added: “We want to get to the bottom of what went wrong, and importantly stop it happening again.”
However, shortly after Osborne spoke to Sky, several Tory MPs all tweeted messages for support for Feldman within minutes of each other, in what some social media users have suggested was a coordinated effort to defend the under pressure chairman.
NOW WATCH: Donald Trump learned his aggressive legal style from ‘the king of intimidation,’ Roy Cohn
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.