While those at the top of the Tory Party will be hoping the fallout from the death of young activist Elliott Johnson can be made to go away, his father clearly has other ideas, and has voiced his concern in an open letter which has been reproduced by the Blue Guerilla blog today. Ray Johnson is not convinced that the party’s internal Inquiry, headed by Edward Legard, will properly solve the problem of bullying. I agree with him.
Independent Inquiry over there, is there, Dave?
The letter, addressed to Lord Feldman, now the sole Chairman after the departure of Grant “Spiv” Shapps, himself no stranger to indulging in a little bullying, makes clear Johnson’s concerns at the outset: “Your proposed investigation … can in no way be recognised as independent or free from party interference … [Legard’s appointment] will raise issues of lack of independence due to his close personal connections within the party”.
Ray Johnson's letter to Lord Feldman
He was particularly scathing on the behaviour of Mark Clarke: “[his] alleged behaviour had apparently been known of for some time - I am led to believe that complaints of his treatment of young activists (some of whom were minors) go back at least a year … yet nothing was done to remove him … the Conservative party allowed him to continue as director of RoadTrip 2015 and had, I understand, re-appointed him to lead RoadTrip 2020, which clearly suggests that he has political support at a higher level”.
In happier times - Elliott Johnson at left, Mark Clarke rear centre
“I am shocked to be informed that other young activists were too terrified to complain and kept their concerns hidden, or made their complaints anonymously - such was the extent to which they were in fear, or felt let down by a party to which they were freely giving their time and energy in the General Election campaign”.
His conclusion is put directly: “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. Did it see them as mere ‘fodder’ in the pursuit of electoral victory? … 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 the evidence over to the proper authorities, the Metropolitan Police, for a full criminal inquiry”. I agree with that 100%.
Mark Clarke, India Brummitt, Grant Shapps, Emma Pidding. That's how close they all are
Ray Johnson also said this to TBG, regarding Mark Clarke and his backers: “I believe that Clarke had powerful backers. I don't know for certain who Clarke's backers are, but the names of Emma Pidding and Grant Shapps keep cropping up”. The mention of Emma Pidding matches my information. He concludes by talking of “not merely try to cast Clarke out and cover-up the rest”. Indeed - it goes much further than Clarke.
So, David Cameron, Lord Feldman and pals, how about it? Anyone seeing their sons and daughters taking an interest in Conservative politics right now will take one look at the claims made about what went on, and keep those sons and daughters well away from it all. It’s in your own interest to come clean, no matter how uncomfortable the revelations. And better for the Tories to admit them, than the press to do it for them.
An independent Inquiry, and a criminal one if necessary. Nothing less will do.