THE father of a Tory activist who killed himself after an alleged bullying campaign by more senior party members fears an internal inquiry into his death will result only in a cover-up.
Ray Johnson, whose 21-year-old son Elliott was found on the tracks at a Bedfordshire railway station in September, urged Conservative chairman Lord Feldman yesterday to send collected information to the police.
In a letter made public by the political web site The Blue Guerrilla, Mr Johnson said he was “concerned” about the internal investigation led by Prime Minister David Cameron’s fellow old Etonian Edward Legard.
The inquiry, Mr Johnson wrote, “can in no way be recognised as independent or free from party interference.
“I have no doubt that Mr Legard has the ability to conduct such inquiries, however, his appointment will raise issues of lack of independence due to his close personal connections within the party, leading to claims of complicity to cover up the issues of endemic bullying, harassment and intimidation that appears to be seen as acceptable within the party.”
At the core of the allegations lies former parliamentary candidate Mark Clarke, who is said to have “made life difficult” for Elliott.
Mr Clarke, who ran the Tory general election campaign drive RoadTrip, was named in a note left behind by Elliott before his suicide.
Mr Johnson accused the party of treating younger activists as “fodder in pursuit of electoral victory.”
And he said that Mr Clarke’s reappointment to lead RoadTrip 2020 despite the investigation showed that he had Tory friends “at a higher level.”
In his letter to Lord Feldman, Mr Johnson added that he was “shocked” to find out that other young Conservatives had been too afraid to come out with their own stories of abuse.
“That this is the case is a damning indictment against the Conservative Party, which blatantly failed in its clear ‘duty of care’ towards young people,” he wrote.
“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 proper authorities, the Metropolitan Police, for a full criminal inquiry.”
Mr Clarke has denied any improper behaviour towards Mr Johnson or others.