Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Nick Clegg: Lord Rennard allegations were in the background when he stepped down

Nick Clegg’s head is spinning, apparently, now that quite so many media outlets are involved in pursuing the allegations about Lord Rennard. That’s what he told ‘self-appointed detective’ Cathy Newman when she managed to get through to his LBC phone-in this morning. Perhaps it was this dizzy sensation of his party being embroiled in a scandal that led the Lib Dem leader to change his tune rather on the issue of why Rennard left. He said:

‘Of course these things were in the background but his health was the immediate reason why he stepped down.’

Later, he added:

‘Of course the issues of his inappropriate behaviour were in the background, of course they were.’

Previously Clegg had only referred to health reasons as the catalyst for Rennard’s departure. The Lib Dem leader also provided some interesting detail on the conversation that Danny Alexander had with Rennard in 2008 when the ‘indirect and non-specific allegations’ surfaced:

‘There was this sort of general concern. He meets Rennard, says, you know, “we’ve been told there are these general concerns, they are totally unacceptable. If you’re doing this kind of thing you must stop now.” He vociferously denied it all.’

That’s interesting, because as our story alleges this morning, Rennard is alleged to have not stopped at that point: it is claimed he was still causing concern by being tactile with a woman who had been drinking heavily at a Lib Dem party in 2011.

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