Elliott Johnson, whose body was found on a railway track last month. Tory scum have spent all their
time in office bullying and persecuting the poorest sections of society. It should come as no surprise
they use the same tactics on their own. Thousands have been pushed into suicide by their draconian
sanctions that have left their victims without any means of support.
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Tory assassins ATOS and the DWP
The young man sitting opposite me in a Kensington coffee bar was bright, courteous and elegantly turned out. He was wearing his favourite fob watch engraved with Winston Churchill's image, which was an 18th birthday present from his parents.
Though Elliott Johnson was just 21, he was politically astute and had nurtured an ambition to become an MP. Unlike many of his generation, he was determinedly Tory. He contacted me at the Daily Mail in early September because he had now developed a desire to become a journalist and was looking for guidance.
So it was that we spent an hour talking widely about politics and writing. He was evidently determined to make something of himself, and was full of ideas about Fleet Street and Westminster. He gave no indication that there was anything amiss in his life.
And yet, tragically, eight days later Elliott was dead.
Today, the reasons behind his death on a rural railway track are rapidly becoming a scandal which threatens to damage the Conservative Party that he was so committed to.
This week, Elliott's father, Ray, contacted me to tell the story of his son's final days, and today I can piece together a deeply troubling story of bullying and political intrigue.
Even the day before he died, Elliott, a Tory activist who was on first-name terms with senior ministers, was bubbling with enthusiasm about his career prospects when he spoke on the phone to his parents. A volunteer in Tory Party headquarters during the election campaign, Elliott had finished working for the Thatcherite pressure group Conservative Way Forward (CWF), where he had been political editor.
He told his parents — 57-year-old Ray and Alison, 53 — that he was hoping to secure work on a respected Right-wing blog dedicated to lobbying for Britain to leave the EU. He told his father he was going to an event that night at Westminster's Portcullis House. 'He was always excited when he was going into Parliament,' Mr Johnson told me. 'I could never have known it would be the last time I would speak to him.'
Just 18 hours later, there was a knock at the door of the family's detached house on the edge of Wisbech in Cambridgeshire.
Two uniformed police officers were there to break the news that the body of Mr and Mrs Johnson's only son had been found on a railway track near Sandy station in Bedfordshire. Today, this family tragedy is causing serious ramifications at the highest levels of the Conservative Party, for Elliott had claimed in notes he had written that he was driven to his death by the bullying of an aide of David Cameron.
The man who stands accused is Mark Clarke, the former chairman of Conservative Future, the party's youth wing, who shared a platform with the Prime Minister at the party's National Convention in July.
The married 38-year-old — nearly twice Elliott's age — is said to have been the subject of numerous complaints made to Tory chiefs by colleagues who had worked alongside him.
Some of them involved his alleged treatment of women. Others, like the one made by Elliott Johnson, involved bullying. Indeed, Elliott's father says he has been approached by several Tory activists telling him that they were also bullied by more senior colleagues.
He said: 'Since Elliott's death, other young activists have told us they have made similar bullying complaints to Conservative campaign headquarters.'
Mark Clarke — once dubbed a 'Tatler Tory' because the society magazine tipped him as a future Cabinet minister — stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate in Tooting in 2010.
Since then, his political career, such as it is, has been mired in controversy.
Clarke, who ran David Cameron's youth 'Road Trip' during this year's general election — which involved sending busloads of young Tories into target seats to drum up votes — has admitted trying to leak a video of another Conservative activist engaging in a sex act.
Clarke, who was educated at fee-paying Dulwich College, has now reportedly been suspended from the party pending the outcome of a disciplinary inquiry.
One theory for why the bullying of Elliott Johnson started was that he refused to write articles about Clarke for the Conservative Way Forward website, which is read by party activists.
There is also a suggestion that there was an ongoing power struggle between young Tories in Clarke's 'Road Trip' and the CWF group, which was set up to honour the political legacy of Mrs Thatcher.
But if that seems like a relatively minor spat, there is no doubt the antipathy turned very nasty indeed.
A secret tape made by Elliott was sent to police days before his death. It records a 90-minute showdown — dubbed a 'kangaroo court' by his friends — in a pub in Tooting, South London.
In the tape, an aggressive Clarke can be heard threatening to 'ruin' Elliott by exposing a police caution he had received for tweeting information about a Euro election count, before the result was public, which breached election law. Elliott was a student at the time.
Clarke's sidekick, a fellow activist named Andre Walker, called Elliott a 'f****** d***h***' and compared him to a Nazi collaborator for complaining about Clarke a few weeks before. (In a letter to Tory Party chairman Lord Feldman, Elliott had accused Clarke of 'virtually beating him up' in a separate pub clash in Westminster on August 12.)
Elliott had claimed in that written complaint, which he later withdrew, allegedly after pressure from Clarke: 'Mark held me down on my bar stool with one hand on my shoulder saying he would destroy my career. He said he 'squashed problems like ants when they are small and young, and this is what I am going to do to you'. He shouted at me, bullied me and interrogated me for half an hour. I feared he would attack me.'
While Clarke denies bullying Elliott, the authorities are now studying the events that led up to the suicide.
British Transport Police, who spent three hours talking to Elliott's parents this week, are investigating. There is also a separate inquiry at Tory headquarters because Elliott was already the subject of an internal investigation into his allegations that he had been repeatedly bullied by Mark Clarke.
Edward Legard, a judge and Old Etonian contemporary of David Cameron — Legard himself has ambitions to become a Conservative MP — has been appointed by the Tory leadership to find out what drove Elliott, a clever Nottingham University history graduate, to take his own life. Certainly, there now appear to be major recriminations in the Conservative Party.
While David Cameron has demanded a swift conclusion to the investigation, Lord Feldman has appointed a private health clinic to offer counselling to the young Tories traumatised by Elliott's death.
In an email to activists, he said: 'We are undertaking a formal investigation following complaints of bullying received against a member of the party.
'A panel of the party's disciplinary committee, under the chairmanship of Edward Legard, will hold a formal inquiry. If any other complaints are made against members of the party we will formally investigate these.'
But the Tory inquiry has done nothing to reassure Elliott's parents that the truth will come out. Mr Johnson, a retired businessman, is a pillar of the local community and chairman of the Wisbech Society preservation trust.
He told me: 'How can a school friend of the Prime Minister, who wants to be a Tory MP, be expected to do a proper job? We want an independent figure to lead the inquiry.'
As the police try to piece together why such a promising young man, with no history of depression or mental illness, should kill himself, his father spoke about the hours leading up to the death of his son.
'He came home for a family wedding on the weekend before,' he told me. 'I picked him up from Peterborough station. We had a lovely day at the wedding.
'The next day I took him back to Peterborough. I hugged him and watched him walk into the station. It was the last time I ever saw him.
'The next day I telephoned him. He was looking forward to going to the reception at Portcullis House.'
After the gathering, Elliott returned to his home in Tooting around 11.30pm, went onto his laptop and started surfing websites about suicide. Having written three suicide notes, he turned off the computer at 2.30 am after buying his train ticket to Sandy over the internet.
'He'd never been to Sandy before,' says Mr Johnson, who took early retirement from his property business because of ill-health. 'I think he chose it because it was a remote station. He caught the train from King's Cross at 3pm and arrived at 4pm.'
Security camera footage showed Elliott arriving at Sandy station on the afternoon of Tuesday, September 15. He was dressed in his trademark three-piece suit, complete with his fob watch.
British Transport Police, who have studied the CCTV footage, told Elliott's parents he looked and behaved like any other smartly dressed young commuter.
However, toxicology tests revealed he had been drinking heavily. The police also found a hip flask containing vodka and orange, which was half empty.
After arriving at the station, Elliott disappeared from the cameras' view.
'At some point he walked a mile parallel to the track, climbed over the fence, took out a blue towel which he placed on the track, and lay down to die,' says his father quietly. 'He wanted to make an impact in the way he chose to die.
'Elliott had such a serious allergy to peanuts that if he had eaten any they could kill him. But he was clearly determined to do it his way. If he was going to go, he wanted to bring Clarke down with him. He lay down on the track as the train approached.
'He left us a two-page letter. There was an apology to his friends in which he said: 'Sorry I failed you.'
'We have always been proud of our son in what he achieved in his short life. When he moved into his own place in Tooting in July, I would say it was the happiest month of his life.
'He never confided in us about the bullying. I wish he had. We could have helped. He gave us no sign.
'We are now desperate for justice for Elliott. It is what is keeping my family going.'
Elliott's love of politics began at age 16 after he took part in a mock election at Spalding Grammar School.
As the Tory candidate, he printed posters, made blue rosettes — and won with a thumping 80 per cent of the vote. 'He was delighted,' said Mr Johnson. He even got a letter of congratulations from Baroness Warsi, who was Tory Party chairman.
He joined the Tory Party and became a member of Nottingham Conservative association when he was at university.
In the summer, he interviewed Robert Halfon, Minister without Portfolio, who is a deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and posted it on YouTube.
Mr and Mrs Johnson received a handwritten letter from Mr Halfon after their son's death. It said: 'I found him to be a wonderful, kind and clever man. I am sure he would have been an MP one day.' That, of course, will never happen now.
Elliott's family believe they will only secure justice if Mark Clarke is found by the Tory inquiry — and the inquest which will be held next year — to have been a factor in their son's tragic death.
Clarke, who will be quizzed by party officials, has issued a statement saying: 'I strongly refute any suggestion of bullying or harassment. I am not making any further comment about this matter. The family have asked for privacy and I respect both their wishes and the coroner's process.'
For now, the Johnsons are just trying to honour Elliott's memory as best they can.
November 5 was his birthday, when he would have been 22. His parents and sisters, Hariette, 18, who is at college, and Charlotte, 20, who has just started university, made blue-coloured cocktails to mark the occasion.
'His friends did the same,' says his father. 'We are going to make a blue cocktail tribute to Elliott on every birthday. He loved Tory blue. It's a nice way to remember him.'