At least two more young Conservative Party activists tried to take their own lives amid ongoing Tory bullying allegations.
Two sources have told the Sunday Times that the activists have attempted suicide since the death of Elliott Johnson, a 21-year-old campaigner who committed suicide in September. He had allegedly been bullied by Tory aide Mark Clarke, who ran the RoadTrip 2015 campaign that bussed young party activists across the country during this year’s election campaign.
Mr Clarke was permanently expelled from the party last week, having been previously suspended following Mr Johnson’s death. He denies any wrongdoing.
Senior party figures, including former chairman Grant Shapps and his successor Lord Feldman, have been dragged into the row after being accused of ignoring complaints against Mr Clarke. There are even allegations that official complaints against Mr Clarke were leaked to him.
Now, one source who was part of the RoadTrip campaign, and was also a friend of Mr Johnson, said that one activist had been caught “just in time” after attempting suicide, and an ambulance was called for another who had attempted to take their own life.
The source said: “I’m so worried that after all this they’re still going after us. My friend is dead. There is some bizarre political sideshow to it but it’s my friend and he’s dead.”
Another female activist admitted contemplating suicide due to pressure still allegedly being exerted.
“I just keep trying to tell myself it’s not that bad, but it’s been going on for so many weeks,” she said.
“I can’t describe how awful it is. I can’t stop myself reading the stories about it because I have to know what happened to Elliott.”
She added: “The party has offered me counselling but the last time I went in to CCHQ [Conservative Campaign Headquarters], a list with my name on it was passed on to Mark Clarke. I don’t know anyone who’s taken up the counselling because they’re scared.”
Yesterday, it emerged that senior figures in the party had at least some knowledge of complaints about Mr Clarke’s behaviour before August, despite previous denials. In an email leaked to The Sun newspaper , sent by Tory aide Paul Abbott to Mr Clarke, Mr Abbott reminds him of the trouble Conservative Campaign Headquarters had gone to in dealing with previous allegations.
“I did have to do quite a lot of ‘corralling’ as well, even if you don’t remember it now! This included for example dealing with all the complaints made about RoadTrip and your behaviour — from Associations, young activists, MPs/candidates, and so forth,” he wrote.