A Tory Cabinet Minister has admitted to having an affair with the head of the Conservative Party’s youth wing.
Robert Halfon, who is the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, confessed to having an affair with Alexandra Paterson, the chair of Conservative Future, after he came to believe there was a plot to blackmail him.
According to the Mail on Sunday, Halfon, who is 46 and has a partner, conducted the affair with 30-year-old Paterson at the East India Club, a private members club where he stays when he is in London.
Halfon says he admitted to the affair after he came to believe that Mark Clarke, the former head of RoadTrip (another Conservative party youth organisation), was planning to photograph him with Paterson in order to gain leverage over him.
When reached by Business Insider, Clarke said “I deny the allegation,” but declined to comment further.
Halfon’s revelation raises all sorts of questions about his past decisions for the party. For instance, back in April 2014, when Paterson was running to be chairman of Conservative Future, Halfon backed her for the role. He told thebluegorilla politics blog that he was “delighted to hear that Alexandra is standing as the National Chairman of Conservative Future. I have every confidence she would make a wonderful CF Chairman.”
Coincidentally, in the same week that Halfon made those comments, Paterson travelled to his constituency to canvass voters on his behalf. She was taking part in a trip organised by Mark Clarke.
The details of Halfon’s affair also raise more questions about Clarke’s alleged bullying while he was the head of RoadTrip, an organisation that mobilised young people to support MPs in marginal constituencies.
The Conservative Party is investigating allegations that he bullied young Tory activist Elliott Johnson shortly before Johnson committed suicide. Johnson was allegedly threatened by Clarke on at least two occasions before his death. Very little is known about why Clarke felt threatened in the first incident. But Clarke took an audio recorder along for a second meeting with Clarke. On that occasion, Johnson captured on tape Clarke appearing to threaten to expose a minor mistake Johnson may have made in violation of election law, as a retaliation after the young activist complained to the Conservative Party about the first altercation.
Prior to Elliott’s suicide, Clarke told this reporter in conversation that when he became an MP he would lobby for a position in the Cabinet by leaning on grateful MPs who he had helped propel to power.
Clarke is being investigated by the Conservative Party as part of a “disciplinary inquiry.” If the inquiry finds that Halfon’s allegations are true, Clarke will be permanently excluded from the party.
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