Tory bullying claim - family's plea for inquest to uncover '˜truth'

The family of a '˜bullied' young Tory activist today demanded that an inquest into his death be widened to investigate his '˜inhuman and degrading treatment.'

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 2:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd March 2016, 2:19 pm
No Caption ABCDE ANL-150917-143902001
No Caption ABCDE ANL-150917-143902001

Elliott, 21, killed himself by laying down on train tracks in Sandy, on September 15 last year.

His death has sparked a widespread allegations of bullying within Conservative Way Forward who had employed him.

Elliott’s family, who were at the Ampthill Coroners court for the pre hearing want his inquest to look at allegations of bullying within the group in the months leading up to his death.

But they will have to wait until Friday to hear whether senior coroner for Luton and Bedfordshire Tom Osbourne agrees with them.

Scheduling his inquest for a full day on March 31 at Ampthill coroners’ court he said: “I will give a detailed ruling in writing and I will look to make that available by 4pm on Friday.”

Elliott left a suicide note accusing then party aide Mark Clarke, 38, of bullying and said fellow aide Andre Walker “betrayed” him.

Mr Clarke has since been expelled from the party for life.

Both men deny all allegations against them.

Speaking at the inquest Heather Williams, QC for the Johnson family, argued that its scope should be widened because Elliott’s treatment may have led to his death.

She citied article three of the Human Rights’ Act 1998 which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment.

She said: “There is a prospect that when evidence is heard that some of the treatment Elliott experienced in the last weeks of his life, particularly the bullying, would cross the article three threshold.

“That would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.”

She added: “It’s a situation there if these allegations of bullying and intimidation were made good in evidence at an inquest, it could well be a situation where the coroner’s obligation to investigate is activated.

“Elliott’s family believe that his death on September 15, 2015, is directly linked to a series of event which occurred in the last few weeks of his life and in particular the bullying he experienced by Mark Clarke and those associated with him.”

Before his death Elliott made a formal complaint to Conservative HQ about Mr Clarke, the hearing was told.

He tried to withdraw this complaint but was under pressure by Conservative Party members not to.

He was also under pressure to withdraw this complaint during a confrontation in a pub with Mr Clarke and Mr Walker on September 2, the hearing heard.

This led to him feeling like he was in an impossible situation, according to Ms Williams.

Reading out a segment of his suicide note she said: “I have been bullied by Mark Clarke and betrayed by Andre Walker. I had to wrongly turn my back on my friends.

“Now all my political bridges are burnt. Where can I even go from here?”

George Alliott , representing Conservative Way Forward, said only selected parts of the suicide note had so far been made public.

He quoted from a British Transport Police report which said the note also referred to a “failure to give his parents children”, a reference to Elliott’s homosexuality.

“If the scope were to be widened, it is going to have to include reference to Elliott’s mental health and his sexuality,” he added.

Ms Williams dismissed this and said the only part of the note which referred to grandchildren was when Elliott said his death would mean they wouldn’t have any.

Mr Walker, who claims to have been Elliott’s lover, also attended the hearing, against the families wishes.

Mr Osbourne started the hearing by responding to a newspaper article where Mr Johnson said if he did attend it would be like “the murdered returning to the scene of the crime”.

He said had read a newspaper article on line.

He added: In there it was said that the if a certain person should be in attendance then that it was rather like the murderer returning to the scene of a murder scene.

“That is unacceptable. Can I just reiterate that anyone who has an interest in this can attend.

“Everyone is entitled to be treated with curtsey and respect.”

Elliott had alleged bullying a month before his death.

Allegations eventually sparked an investigation and the resignation of former party chairman Grant Shapps.

Pressure has continued to mount on current party chairman Lord Feldman to quit amid claims that he was aware of bullying in the youth wing.

He denies these claims and retains the “full confidence of the Prime Minister”.

Mr Clarke may still be called as a witness.

After the hearing a spokesman for the Johnson family said that if the coroner does not widen the inquest’s scope they may consider challenging it in the High Court.