Beds, Herts & Bucks

Elliott Johnson death: Coroner says activist intended to kill himself

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Media captionElliott Johnson's father says he wants 'full justice' for his son

A Conservative activist who said he was victimised by fellow Tories wrote to his "bullies" saying "I could write a hate message but actions speak louder than words", an inquest heard.

Elliott Johnson, 21, was later killed by a train after lying across railway tracks in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

Coroner Tom Osborne concluded Mr Johnson, of London, took his own life last September.

"Elliott Johnson... suffered severe injuries and died instantly," he said.

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Image caption Paul Abbott, chief executive of Conservative Way Forward (CWF), said he believed former Tory activist Mark Clarke (pictured) had a vendetta against the group

Senior Bedfordshire and Luton coroner Mr Osborne said: "I find that in letters his state of mind confirmed that he believed himself to have failed with money, with politics, his parents and with life.

"And he believed at the time of his death that he had been bullied and had been betrayed."

'Squashed like ant'

The inquest in Ampthill, focused on the fact Mr Johnson believed he was being bullied and on his being made redundant by pressure group Conservative Way Forward (CWF), shortly after making the allegation.

In a detailed complaint, he had accused former Conservative activist Mark Clarke of bullying, following an altercation in a central London pub during a friend's birthday party on 12 August.

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Image caption Elliott Johnson, whose parents live in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, died of severe traumatic injuries to the head

During the exchange, Mr Clarke was alleged to have threatened to "squash" him "like an ant".

Paul Abbott, former chief executive of the CWF, told the inquest Mr Clarke harboured a "vendetta" against CWF, and there had been other complaints by the group's volunteers against him.

Image copyright BBC/Laurence Cawley

Three suicide notes

  • To his parents Ray and Alison, Elliott wrote: "I find myself on the scrap heap. Now all my political bridges are burnt. If only I had not been caught up in the fake idea of a right wing movement but that is that."
  • To his friends and allies he wrote "I failed you" in large letters
  • The third note, addressed to those he deemed "bullies and betrayers", read: "I could write a hate message but actions speak louder than words. I think this should be on your mind, Elliott."

However, Mr Osborne said he found "no connection" between Mr Johnson's complaint and CWF's decision to make him redundant.

Mr Johnson's father Ray said he believed Mr Clarke, who denied the bullying allegations, had "ruined" his son's career.

"We were unaware of, at the time, a victimisation campaign by Mr Clarke towards Elliott and other members of the Conservative Way Forward, which was getting steadily worse," he said.

Mr Johnson's allegations eventually sparked an investigation and the resignation of former party chairman Grant Shapps.

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