Elliott Johnson: No Link Between Redundancy and Bullying

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The coroner has ruled that that there was no link between Elliott Johnson being made redundant from Conservative Way Forward and alleged bulling by ‘Tatler Tory’ Mark Clarke. The inquest heard from CWF’s Paul Abbott about a bitter feud between him and Clarke, however the coroner warned the Johnson family QC that linking the redundancy and Clarke was “irrelevant… I will not allow this to degenerate into a trial of Mark Clarke”. Clarke was accused of saying that he “squashes” young activists “like ants when they are small and young”. There wasn’t much said today that we didn’t know already – the coroner was never going to lay the blame with any individual or group. The coroner ruled that Elliott Johnson took his own life…

H/T @jamiegrierson, @tombarton, @benando

Coroner Won’t Consider Elliott Johnson Bullying Allegations

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The coroner has rejected a request by the parents of Elliott Johnson to consider wider allegations of bullying by Tory party members during the inquest into his suicide. The wider allegations were described by the coroner as “very remote to the death of the deceased”. He is satisfied that “no criminal offences have been committed, against Elliott Johnson”.

“In my judgment I do not consider at this stage that it is necessary to call either Mr Walker or Mr Clarke. The allegation against them is a blunt one of bullying and betrayal. It is difficult to see that, beyond the assertions made by the Deceased in his letter, what these potential witnesses could add to the inquest, save for to deny any bullying…

I emphasise again that an inquest is not a trial. The purpose is not to determine whether the allegations of bullying set out in the letters left by Mr. Johnson were true and I will not allow the inquest to be used as a tool for putting anyone on trial. The purpose of an inquest is not to identify individual fault on the part of those involved. In deed it is expressly not concerned with apportioning blame or determining questions of fault”

A major development…

Johnson Family Lawyers Play Down “Pre-Existing Vulnerabilities”

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Lawyers for the parents of Elliott Johnson have argued that their son’s previous mental health issues and suicide attempts were “pre-existing vulnerabilities” which did not contribute to him taking his own life. In their submission to the coroner today, the Johnson lawyers said:

In so far as it may be said that there is evidence of other pressures or reasons for the actions that Elliott took… The vast majority of the features identified by him in that letter are directly referable to [bullying and losing his job]…

his family believe that up to this time Elliott had been in a good state of mind, happy and excited about his new job with CWF. There is nothing to suggest he had experienced any medical problems in the months or even several years before this time. (References in his medical records to emotional disturbance are from 2011, when Elliott was still at school)

Further, in so far as Elliott had any pre-existing vulnerabilities in 2015, this made the treatment he experienced in the weeks before his death all the more serious (and all the mores so if those involved were aware of it). As Elliott said in the letter he left his parents: “It’s very lonely sometimes. Politics, depression, anxiety are not good for individuals.

The British Transport Police report leaked to the press revealed Elliott’s three previous suicide attempts and battle with depression. The police report suggested Elliott, who was gay, had rowed with his parents about his sexuality – a claim they deny. The Johnson’s lawyers tell the coroner that this was all in the distant past…

Twist in Tory Suicide Case

A twist in the Elliott Johnson suicide story on Friday night as Newsnight asked his father Ray why he never mentioned his son’s previous mental health issues. On Sunday Elliott’s lover Andre Walker said he had not revealed their relationship because he didn’t want to upset the family. Walker says he has been accused of bullying because “fat people from the North of England in politics are always called bruisers”.

The coroner’s inquest begins on Wednesday…

Newsnight Tory Sleaze Exposé Coming

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Guido understands that Newsnight are not far from finishing a special investigation into what one source describes as the “culture of aggression in politics”. The report will focus on the Tory bullying/blackmail scandal that has engulfed the party, also looking at the “wider problem” of the poisonous climate that led to a young activist taking his own life. Guido hears the programme has already interviewed around 40 young Tory activists, parliamentary staffers and even non-political Westminster workers such as cleaners, with several agreeing to speak only if their faces were silhouetted and voices disguised. The family of Elliott Johnson are also believed to be helping with editorial input. No chance of them doing a McAlpine with this one, hopefully…

Muted Response on Baroness’ Big Day

Congratulations to the new Baroness Pidding of Amersham, who was sworn in to the House of Lords yesterday. Though it is slightly odd that this top Tory activist, who was credited with helping to run the Road Trip 2015 campaign during the election, received such a muted response from the Tory youth movement on her big day. “There are just three messages of congratulations on her Facebook page,” notes a knowing Tory source. Surely nothing to do with Baroness Pidding’s popularity plummeting since her implication in the Elliott Johnson bullying scandal…

Bully-Linked Baroness Inducted Into Lords Tomorrow

The father of Elliott Johnson, the young Tory activist who took his own life amid bullying allegations, has given an interview to LBC. Ray Johnson says CCHQ mishandled complaints against election guru Mark Clarke and again insisted Lord Feldman hand the evidence to the police:

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Tomorrow sees the induction into the House of Lords of Emma Pidding, who was chair of the Clarke’s ‘Road Trip’ campaign. Pidding has been accused by Ray Johnson of being involved in helping Clarke. Johnson says: “I believe that Clarke had powerful backers. I don’t know for certain who Clarke’s backers are, but the name of Emma Pidding keeps cropping up”. As recently as July, Pidding arranged for her close ally Clarke to be publicly ‘feted‘ by David Cameron at the Conservative National Convention. There are rumours that it was she that leaked the names of complainants to CCHQ about Mark Clarke – allowing him to apply intense pressure on them. Social media photos – like the one above – of Clarke and Pidding together were deleted by the Baroness-to-be after the scandal broke…

Father of Bullied Suicide Tory Demands Lord Feldman Hands CCHQ’s Evidence to Police

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Ray Johnson, Elliott Johnson’s father has written to the Conservative Party chairman Lord Feldman demanding he hands over all the internal inquiry’s evidence to the police and abandons the party’s own investigation.

The letter alleges that

  • Edward Legard, the lawyer running CCHQ’s internal investogation is an “Old Etonian contemporary of the Prime Minister who can in no way be recognised as independent”.
  • CCHQ is complicit in a “cover-up”
  • That the party failed in its clear “duty of care” to young people  

Ray Johnson’s key argument is

“The party’s belated attempt at an internal inquiry is too little, too late. The correct process would be to now hand the investigation and all evidence over to the proper authorities, the Metropolitan Police, for a full criminal inquiry.”

CCHQ insiders and young Tory activists believe that a police investigation is inevitable – particularly given that the names of the original complainants against Mark Clarke were leaked to Mark Clarke from within CCHQ – leading to him exerting intense pressure on the very people who had accused him of wrongdoing. Ray Johnson accuses Emma Pidding – now Baroness Pidding – of being complicit with Clarke. With tragic consequences…

Hat-Tip: Blue Guerilla

Three Tory Activists Banned From Conference Amid Suicide Bullying Claims

Three prominent Conservative activists have had their conference accreditations rescinded following the death of 21 year-old Tory member Elliott Johnson. Johnson reportedly took his own life after making allegations against another Tory member. Guido understands that two of the banned activists are former candidate Mark Clarke, who ran the party youth-wing’s Road Trip election campaign, and Sam Armstrong, a member of the Tory youth group Conservative Future. Guido has been unable to confirm the identity of the third person at this moment.

A Tory spokesman said:

“Everyone in the Conservative Party is deeply saddened at the death of Elliott Johnson. The circumstances surrounding his death are in the hands of the Coroner and it is not appropriate to comment on those at this time.

The Party’s own, separate, disciplinary inquiry is in relation to complaints received from Mr Johnson and others against a member of the Party.

This initial disciplinary inquiry was launched as soon as a complaint was received in August 2015. An individual has had their membership suspended, pending the outcome of a full disciplinary panel.

Three individuals have had their Conference accreditation rescinded.”

The contents of a note left by Elliott Johnson are the subject of intense speculation…

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