As Zelo Street regulars will know, the Tory Party has recently released a summary of the investigation by solicitors Clifford, Chance on the bullying scandal that erupted following the tragic death of activist Elliott Johnson last year. That investigation is widely considered to have been a whitewash, little more than an exercise in tidying away loose ends in the hope that what happened to Elliott Johnson will not happen to others.
Happier times: Elliott Johnson, Mark Clarke and Marina Muttik
What may not be as well-known is that the whitewashing extended to the manner in which the party dealt with Elliott’s family, typified by a letter sent from Party Chairman Patrick McLoughlin to his parents Ray and Alison and dated 17th August. That letter is included in this post in full, so that there need be no doubt as to its contents.
Here is what McLoughlin had to tell the Johnson family.
“Today I am publishing the Summary of findings of the Clifford Chance investigation into allegations of bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviour, and the response to such allegations by Conservative Campaign Headquarters.
The report and summary are both clear that the Conservative Party acted entirely properly in relation to the complaint received from Elliott in August 2015”.
McLoughlin expresses his sympathies for the family’s loss. He tells that lessons will be learned. But he is direct to the point of bluntness in his covering of the corporate backside.
Moreover, he makes an assertion that sits uncomfortably with what actually happened in the aftermath of Elliott Johnson’s complaint, which, let us not forget, concerned the behaviour of someone McLoughlin manages not to mention, Mark Clarke.
After that complaint was made, Clarke effectively carried on as before. He was employed within CCHQ. He was subsequently given a life ban by the party. Yet, by leaving him in post, the Tory Party claims that it acted “entirely properly”.
Worse, the response to that complaint included a claim that Elliott Johnson was being “protected” from Clarke, except that what actually happened was that a vulnerable young man was made redundant from his job.
Of course, Conservative Way Forward, for whom he had been working, was not a wholly owned subsidiary of the party, but to claim total detachment and lack of association - or, indeed, responsibility - is the stuff of shameless sophistry.
Had the Tory Party acted “entirely properly”, then Clarke would not have been left in post, action would have been taken to cleanse the stables there and then - not after someone had died - and the “inappropriate behaviour” would have been identified.
The “inappropriate behaviour” was never investigated properly. Had it been, several Tory MPs would now be looking for alternative employment.
Ray and Alison Johnson have good reason to be repulsed and outraged at their treatment by the party for which their son worked so enthusiastically. Their reply follows - soon.