'˜Bullied' Tory activist killed himself on Sandy train line

A Tory activist who claimed to have been bullied by Conservative supporters before his death committed suicide, a coroner ruled today.

Tuesday, 31st May 2016, 5:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st May 2016, 6:13 pm
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Tom Osborne ruled that Elliott Johnson deliberately killed himself by laying down on a railway track in Sandy on September 15 last year.

An inquest at Ampthill, heard that a month before his death Elliott had an altercation with ‘Tatler Tory’ Mark Clarke and later lost his job.

But the coroner said he believed that the row had nothing to do with Elliott’s redundancy from Conservative Way Forward (CWF) campaign group on August 19.

Summing up, he said: “He felt himself to have failed with money, failed in politics, failed his parents and failed his life.

“I also find that he believed at the time of his death that he was being bullied.

“I find that he intended to take his own life. That not only did he take his own life but he intended to do so.”

Speaking at the inquest Elliott’s father Ray Johnson insisted that his son died because of the actions of Mr Clarke.

Mr Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Johnson claimed Mr Clarke warned CWF chairman Donal Blaney and chief executive Paul Abbott about an apparent police caution Elliott received for tweeting the European election results too early in 2014.

Mr Johnson claimed this led to Elliott being made redundant.

He said that it turned out that Elliott had not been given a caution but his son was worried about that the incident could damage his career prospects.

He said: “My firmly held belief is that Elliott was made redundant because Mark Clarke had gone to Paul Abbott and Donal Blaney and said something with regards to Elliott having received a caution and therefore being a risk to their organisation.

“What else he said to them I do not know.

“This so called redundancy letter appeared within weeks of Elliott being attacked by Mark Clarke on August 12.

“I think it is directly linked.”

He added: “I believe that Mark Clarke spoke to Donal Blaney and Paul Abbott to squash him like an ant.

“That is the reason Clarke went to Abbott and Blaney and that is the reason that started his redundancy.”

Mr Johnson believes that Mr Clarke and fellow political lobbyist Andre Walker were partly responsibly for Elliott’s death

He added: “I think he (Elliott) wanted to tell them that they should take their share of responsibility for what he was about to do.”

Mr Johnson said he thought Elliott’s previous suicide attempts were “cries for help” and he recovered from that period in 2011.

He said he was happy throughout his A levels and degree at the University of Notthingham.

Speaking at the inquest Conservative Way Foward chief executive Paul Abbott said Mr Clarke hated him and bullied and intimidated several activists including Elliott.

Mr Abbott said: “I thought it was important. I did not pressure him on it but I asked him if he was intending to complain.

“There is an important point her which is that two of the complainants related to girls which were very serious complaints and they deserved to tell their story.

“Also think about the other volunteers from CWF who were trying to tell their story.”

Elliott withdrew the complaint against Mark Clarke’s behaviour on September 7.

At this time Mr Abbott was among half a dozen other people making formal complaints against Mr Clarke who denies bullying.

After he withdrew his complaint he contacted Mr Abbott three times asking him to call him before his death.

Mr Abbott denied that his failure to respond had anything to do him withdrawing the complaint.

“I wish I had called Elliott. I had no idea that he was as vulnerable as he was,” he said.

“At least two of the girl complainants have very severe complaints and I had that as well.