Saturday, 28 November 2015

Grant Shapps resigns over activism bullying scandal

Grant Shapps has quit the Cabinet, as Secretary of State for International Development, after having been accused of failing to act, after claims of bullying emerged in a Conservative Party youth campaign group.

In the 2015 election campaign, a Conservative-orientated group called RoadTrip went across the country, transporting youth activists from seat to seat, going from door to door. It was led by youth organiser Mark Clarke. Mr Clarke had been a rising star in the Conservative Party at one point, but it has since emerged that he had actually been struck off a list of Conservative constituency candidates in 2010, following complaints about his behaviour.

It is alleged that Mr Clarke was given the role of Director for RoadTrip, with Mr Shapps' approval, despite being aware of the past complaints. The furore surrounding RoadTrip and Mr Shapps has come to light, following the apparent suicide of a youth activist, in September.

Elliot Johnson, aged 21, allegedly made a recording of a heated confrontation, before his death. The recording is reported to be 90mins in length, and the Daily Mail described it as a "kangaroo court". In the Mail's artcile, it is reported that Mr Clarke allegedly took issue with Johnson over a gaffe on Twitter, allegedly declaring he would seek to ruin Mr Johnson's career, because of it.

Johnson is also alleged to have written a letter to current Tory party chairman Lord Feldman, complaining about Mr Clarke, following another alleged heated exchange at a pub.

On a recent edition of Newsnight, (see here) Ray Johnson, Elliot's father, appeared, and said that "It became a...quagmire...almost like a dry rot, affecting the Conservative party...with many people being affected adversely and other people who were doing the bullying and intimidating...It became very to us that they were being protected and, if not tolerated, encouraged by what Mark Clarke and other were doing in the Conservative Party, to the activists".

Upon hearing the news of Mr Shapps' resignation, Mr Johnson told the BBC that he was "glad", but described initial attempts at a single internal party investigation into the matter as a "cover-up".

Earlier this month, it was reported that Mark Clarke had been expelled from the Conservative Party for life, pending an expected inquiry on the matter. Mr Clarke is also reported to be seeking to sue for defamation, following the inquest, in response to the allegations concerned.

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