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Is 'Bruiser' Clarke all talk?

Education Secretary Charles Clarke bolstered his reputation for outspokenness at the Labour conference a fortnight ago by boasting that he had told a meeting of prep school heads in his constituency that he "was shocked at how off the pace they were compared to heads in state schools I I was lucky to emerge whole."

It all made "two pizzas" look terribly tough but an alternative account, from a head who was present, casts him in a slightly less heroic role.

According to this version, a discomfited but subdued Mr Clarke was berated by the heads over bureaucracy in schools.

There was no defiant "off the pace" diatribe from Clarke at the meeting.

Instead, it was made in a private complaint to the organiser afterwards.

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