Nick Clegg will have 30 minutes  of sustained questioning tomorrow when his weekly Thursday LBC phone-in moves to 9am Wednesday to avoid it coinciding with the Eastleigh by-election.

26 clegg2 g w Lord Rennard: Lib Dems and police hold stakeholder conversation

There’s an acknowledgement from his team that they got it wrong in dealing with Lib Dem women’ complaints and that could be something Nick Clegg says tomorrow in the course of the questioning, in effect coming closer to the words used by the party president Tim Farron.

That might be a better line than snapping at “self-appointed detectives” in the media which seems to have kicked off a bit of a reaction and which his aides say was aimed at certain newspaper allegations that are wrong, not other investigative journalism.

The Lib Dem Chief Executive and the party’s lawyer have been speaking to police to help the Met – high on the agenda, trying to work out whether anything that may have constituted criminal behaviour is being alleged.

This is called a “stakeholder conversation” in police jargon and things have not yet escalated to a full-scale police investigation. If it does Lib Dem sources are clear it would kill their own investigation into Lord Rennard stone dead.

That would take the affair completely out of the party’s hands and into what could be a much lengthier police process (party sources have spoken of not expecting to finish their own planned inquiry in anything under 12 weeks.

The party’s statement says: “While we establish if criminal activity has taken place we will continue with the two inquiries set up by the Party.”

You get the impression talking to people around Nick Clegg that there is a frustration about not being able to talk about the precise details behind Lord Rennard’s departure.

They feel that the Lib Dem leader is being labelled as someone who failed to act over allegations when the they say that the “timeline” – complaints and then within months a departure – point to a different narrative.

Lord Rennard continues to deny the accusations strenuously and says he’ll participate in any properly constituted inquiry.

Lord Rennard continues to deny the accusations strenuously and says he’ll participate in any properly constituted inquiry.

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