- At least 22 witnesses have given statements in the inquiry into the Tatler Tory
- Elliott Johnson’s family said police are learning of more names all the time
- He committed suicide after complaining of bullying by Conservative aide
- Mark Clarke denies bullying, sexual harassment and blackmailing
The police inquiry into the Tatler Tory scandal is expanding, according to the family of the activist who took his own life.
At least 22 witnesses have given statements and police are learning more names all the time, said Ray Johnson, whose son Elliott, 21, committed suicide after complaining of bullying by Conservative election aide Mark Clarke, dubbed the Tatler Tory.
Mr Johnson said police had been encouraging potential victims of Clarke – who denies bullying, sexually harassing and blackmailing young Tory activists – to make criminal allegations.
British Transport Police is investigating the death of Elliott Johnson, who was found on railway tracks at Sandy station in Bedfordshire in September.
His father, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said yesterday: ‘They said they had spoken to 22 witnesses and the more people they talked to, the more names came out.
‘Their investigation is primarily [to prepare a report] for the coroner. But they’ve spoken to a number of people who have raised complaints and they’re asking people to make formal complaints.’
Mr Johnson added: ‘As the thing gets bigger and bigger, they are picking up interviews of a potentially criminal nature.’
More than 20 activists complained to Conservative headquarters about the behaviour of Clarke, 38, a married father-of-two who ran the ‘Road Trip’ project bussing young supporters around the country to canvas in marginal seats during the election campaign.
FELDMAN’S POPULARITY PLUNGES
Lord Feldman’s popularity among grassroots Tories has plummeted in the wake of the scandal.
The party chairman’s rating slumped from 36.2 in November to minus 16.2 this month among 700 activists polled by Conservative Home.
He is bottom of its popularity table after the largest one-month fall in a Cabinet minister’s ranking recorded by the website. The poll follows pressure on Lord Feldman to resign, including from Elliott Johnson’s father Ray.
Grant Shapps, co-chairman with the peer until the election, said yesterday he quit as a foreign aid minister to ‘do the right thing’ by the Johnson family. He added that he was ‘at least demonstrating that the buck stops somewhere’.
One whistleblower, who alleges Clarke sexually assaulted her during a Road Trip event, said: ‘Most of us, including myself, want a full police investigation into this and, if necessary, criminal charges and a trial. It is important the evidence and allegations against Clarke can be tested and examined.’
A second alleged victim was interviewed last month by British Transport Police on behalf of the coroner, and she told officers Clarke had sexually harassed her.
They apparently said it was not relevant to the investigation of Mr Johnson’s death, but she was told that if her evidence was deemed sufficient for a criminal inquiry, they would contact her.
The woman added she would await the coroner’s verdict before considering a formal complaint to the police.
The scandal has led to the resignation of international development minister Grant Shapps, a former Tory chairman who admitted he failed to respond to complaints against Clarke. Party activist Marina Muttik, 20, a friend of Mr Johnson, said Mr Shapps had been made a scapegoat.