Problem with Claris shifters - what's going on?


Retro Guru
Hi guys,

Both shifters on my Boardman bike stopped working withing a couple of days one from the other.
As the left shifter was the one not working at all (the right one still sort of does) I turned my attention to it first. My first thought was that the cable housing was rusty and preventing the cable from sliding properly. I took the hood off, took the old cable out (was very gooey, probably from low quality lubricant) and replaced the housing which indeed was a bit rusty on the inside at the distal end.
New housing, new cable...same problem! The lever is very hard. Nothing is blocking it and the derailleur moves freely if I operate it with my hand. The cable guide under the BB is clean and lubricated.

Puzzled and frustrated, I fixed the derailleur position with the limit screws, so that it would stay on the outer ring, which is the one I use 95% of the time. Only when I took the bike off the stand I noticed the left shifter was "weird" with the two levers no longer aligned.
Pictures (below) will describe better than a 1000 words. Do you think something inside the shifter got bent? The bike is 1yr old and the sifter has always been VERY hard to operate. It didn't bother me because as I said I use the smaller chainring very rarely, but maybe there was an underlying problem?
Can these shifters be taken apart for servicing?