Beds, Herts & Bucks

Elliott Johnson inquest: Family want Tory bullying claims to be explored

Elliott Johnson Image copyright PA
Image caption Elliott Johnson was found dead on railway tracks in September

A young Conservative activist's parents are calling on an inquest into his death to look at bullying in the party.

Elliott Johnson, who was found dead on railway tracks in Bedfordshire, is thought to have killed himself.

Weeks earlier he had raised allegations about the way he was being treated in the Conservatives' youth wing.

A full inquest into the 21-year-old's death was due to take place next month but this has been delayed to hear arguments from lawyers for his family.

'Whitewash' fears

Instead a review hearing will allow the Johnson family's lawyers to argue that further evidence about the culture in the Conservative Party at the time should be heard.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The allegations concerning bullying sparked an investigation and the resignation of party chairman Grant Shapps

Mr Johnson's father Ray, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said: "We want to ensure that the inquest covers all aspects surrounding Elliott's death.

"The original intention had been to hold a relatively short one-and-a-half-hour inquest only hearing evidence from the police.

"We've said there's more to this than simply what the police have reported and the coroner has agreed to hear our representations.

"This will include additional evidence taking the whole episode back several weeks and months to reveal the full circumstances surrounding Elliott's state of mind."

The family have already decided they will not participate in an internal review by the Conservative Party, saying they do not want to lend credibility to a process they fear will be a whitewash.

Elliott Johnson had alleged bullying a month before his death in September, sparking an investigation and the resignation of then party chairman Grant Shapps.

The allegations centre on the activities of former activist Mark Clarke, who has since been expelled from the party. Mr Clarke has denied the allegations against him.

Ray Johnson says his son's concerns were brought to the party's attention on 12 August. Elliott was found dead on railway tracks near Sandy station on 15 September.

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