BBC Newsnight investigation claims that ‘institutionalised bullying’ complaints made by Wisbech’s Elliott Johnson were ignored before his suicide

Elliott Johnson, who committed suicide in September.

Elliott Johnson, who committed suicide in September. - Credit: Archant

The father of Elliott Johnson has called for Conservative party bosses to resign after a BBC Newsnight investigation claimed that they ‘failed to act’ on claims of bullying within the party’s youth wing around the time of his son’s suicide.

The father of former Wisbech Young Tory Elliott Johnson has called for Conservative party bosses to resign.

His comments come after a BBC Newsnight investigation claimed Tory Central Office ‘failed to act’ on claims of bullying within the party’s youth wing around the time of his son’s suicide.

The investigation claimed that “institutionalised bullying” was rife within the Conservative Party’s Youth wing, and that complaints made by Mr Johnson to Tory HQ about the behaviour of senior activist Mark Clarke were ignored.

21-year-old Elliott took his own life in September amidst claims that there was a culture of bullying within the Conservative Future group, of which he was a member.


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MP Ben Howlett, who was chairman for the party’s youth wing from 2010 until 2013, told Newsnight that claims of bullying had been “swept under the rug” and that multiple complaints had been made and ignored – including one from Elliott Johnson - regarding the behaviour of senior activist Mark Clarke.

Johnson took his own life on a rail line in Bedfordshire and the BBC has found that Clarke had threatened to ruin Johnson’s career by revealing the Nottingham University graduate had a police caution.

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Johnson made a formal complaint to his bosses following the threat, and later recorded a meeting between himself, Clarke and an associate, who warned him that he was “on the wrong side of an internal battle.”

Mr Clarke’s name was mentioned in letters found by Johnson’s parents after his death.

Elliott’s father, Ray, believes that Tory bosses Lord Shapps and Feldman should resign if Newsnight’s allegations prove to be true.

He said: “I find it staggering if Ben Howlett MP has come out and damned Feldman and Shapps for not having acted. If this turns out to be true then Lord Feldman and Shapps should look to their consciences and resign immediately.”

Mr Johnson, who is the chairman of Wisbech Society, also told the BBC how his son’s death has “broke” his family.

Elliott landed a job as political editor of the campaign group Conservative Way Forward, but said he had discovered that within two months of landing the job – and taking a six month lease on a flat at Tooting - the role was made redundant.

Elliott was then given a part-time role as a social media consultant but not did not receive sufficient pay.

Prior to the airing of last night’s Newsnight, the Conservative Party revealed that they were to ban Mark Clarke for life.

The circumstances around Mr Johnson’s death are the subject of both a coroner’s inquiry and a police investigation.

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