UK Politics

Father of 'bullied' activist calls for Lord Feldman resignation

Lord Andrew Feldman Image copyright AFP
Image caption Lord Feldman is under pressure following the resignation of Grant Shapps

The father of a man who was found dead after he was allegedly bullied in the Conservative Party has called for the party chairman to resign.

Ray Johnson, whose 21-year-old son Elliott died in September, said responsibility "lays squarely on the shoulders of Lord Feldman". Co-chairman Grant Shapps has resigned as minister.

Claims of bullying have centred around former youth campaign organiser Mark Clarke, who denies any wrongdoing.

The Conservative Party did not comment.

Grant Shapps resigned as international development minister over claims he failed to act on allegations of bullying.

Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he agreed the party chairman should resign and said: "Lord Feldman was in charge when my son was being bullied and when my son died.

"Shapps had left CCHQ [Conservative Campaign Headquarters] several months earlier, so the responsibility lays squarely on the shoulders of Lord Feldman."

Some Conservative MPs have told the BBC the peer, partly responsible for having given Mr Clarke a formal role in campaigning, must stand down.

Image caption Ray Johnson said responsibility for his son Elliott's death "lays squarely on the shoulders of Lord Feldman"

The party has said an investigation into claims of bullying in the youth wing will be carried out entirely by the law firm Clifford Chance.

Before his death, Elliott had complained to Conservative Central Office that Mr Clarke had threatened to destroy his career. He also named Mr Clarke in a letter found by his parents after his death.

Who's who: The key figures

  • Mark Clarke: Once tipped as a rising star, the former youth organiser has now been expelled from the Conservative Party over bullying allegations. He strongly refutes all allegations against him
  • Elliott Johnson: The Conservative Party member died in an apparent suicide in September, having claimed he was being bullied by Mr Clarke. His father has called for an external inquiry
  • Lord Feldman: The Conservative Party chairman, a close friend of David Cameron, was co-chairman with Grant Shapps until the election, and one of four officials who agreed to give Mark Clarke a formal role in the Conservative election campaign
  • Grant Shapps: The former co-chairman resigned as a government minister on Saturday, saying the "buck should stop with me"

Mr Johnson said: "There was a month between my son making his complaint and him being found dead.

"If he had felt his complaint was being taken seriously and Mark Clarke had been suspended, maybe that would have altered his state of mind and he would still be here, but the party failed to act.

"For me Lord Feldman is at the centre of this and has serious questions to answer.

"It seems that David Cameron regards him as indispensable but in my view he should resign and acknowledge the failings within the party."

Mr Clarke has rejected allegations of bullying, sexual assault and intimidation. He has since been expelled from the party.

Mr Shapps resigned as international development minister over allegations that, while party co-chairman, he failed to act on claims of bullying.

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