Three Conservatives have been barred from the October party conference in Manchester in connection with bullying allegations relating to a Tory activist believed to have killed himself.
A spokesman for the Tories conformed that three people had had their conference credentials revoked following the death of Elliott Johnson, and one person had had their party membership suspended pending the outcome of an internal inquiry launched before Johnson’s death.
“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.”
According to the Telegraph, the Tories that have been barred are Mark Clarke, a 2010 parliamentary candidate for Tooting; Sam Armstrong of youth group Conservative Future, which Johnson also belonged to; and Andre Walker, a political journalist and former political staffer.
In a statement Clarke said:
“I strongly refute any suggestion of bullying or harassment. I am not making any further comment about this matter. The family have asked for privacy and I respect both their wishes and the coroner’s process.”
Earlier this week Johnson’s coroner revealed they had been made aware of allegations of bullying in connection to Johnson’s death, and that the British Transport Police were investigating the matter with assistance from Bedfordshire Police.
The Guardian reported that party members had been named in a note Johnson left behind on the day of his death, which is not being treated as suspicious by police.
Ray Johnson, father of the deceased, said at the inquest:
“We want to find out who did these things and what happened to Elliott. We want to know how long the Conservative Party had concerns and why nothing was done to keep young people safe. If this is happening to young activists we don’t want anyone else to suffer in this way.”
He later added:
“You think of a party having the same agenda. But there’s uncontrolled factionalism within with people fighting each other for pole position. Elliott was an idealist, but he found himself in a snake pit. He felt like his career prospects were gone. He lived for politics and political journalism. He was dedicated, he was tenacious.”
Elliott Johnson had worked for campaign group Conservative Way Forward after his time Nottingham University, moving to Tooting in London to take up paid work with the group.
Image Credit – Elliott Johnson via his Twitter account