Monday 4 July 2022

Christopher Pincher Scandal - How Boris Johnson ignored the Elliot Johnson suicide report into sexual misconduct and bullying

I must say that I am disgusted by the press coverage of the Christopher Pincher scandal. There has not been a single mention of the Elliot Johnson scandal. You may not recall the name Elliot Johnson. He was a a bright young man, who was an intern for the Conservative party. Back in 2015, he took his own life, following allegations of bullying and possible sexual misconduct by a senior officer in the Conservative party. Mark Clark was slung out of the Conservative party as a result.

To quote the Guardian article

In the days following Elliott’s death, more and more allegations emerged about the behaviour of Clarke, a consultant with Unilever. About 25 people have made official complaints against Clarke over the past year, yet no official action was taken by the Conservative party until Clarke was suspended nine days after Elliott’s death and banned for life from the party last week. The complainants were largely young Tory activists who had been involved in RoadTrip2015 , which by then was regarded as a huge success. David Cameron was due to hold a reception that Clarke was invited to at Chequers in the autumn to celebrate the work of volunteers; this was later cancelled

Yet it has now emerged that the complaints against Clarke included allegations of sexual harassment, intimidation and plotting blackmail.

In the aftermath of the scandal, The Conservative party promised to mend it's ways and ensure that the Party HQ was a safe environment for young people. In 2021, it was clear that the Conservatives had renenged on their commitment to change their ways. An investigation was concluded and Elliots family issued a statement expressing their dissatisfaction, through their solicitors. To quote Elliot's father

The party has recognised there are failings but they are also saying they’ve done nothing wrong.

As has become 100% clear, the death of Elliot was something the Conservative party should have learned from and didn't.  The summary of findings by Clifford Chance is shocking. These were released in 2021, on Boris Johnson's watch. He must have read this and clearly did nothing. 

Here are just a few excepts. 

16. A complaint was made by email to Mr. Abbott about the general conduct of unidentified persons on RoadTrip events. This complaint also included allegations of sexual assault on a third party (not the complainant) by a third party unconnected with Mr. Clarke or RoadTrip. Mr. Abbott responded to the complainant and forwarded the complaint to Mr. Stephen Phillips (Secretary to the Board and Secretary to the Disciplinary Sub-Committee of the Board). It did not prove possible to arrange a meeting between Mr. Phillips and the complainant. The complaint concerning RoadTrip was not investigated.

69. With one exception, there is no suggestion that Mr. Abbott knew of the allegations of sexually inappropriate behaviour by Mr. Clarke whilst Mr. Abbott was at CCHQ. One activist told the Party’s preliminary investigation that Mr. Clarke acted inappropriately towards young female activists and bragged that he got females drunk in order to sleep with them. The activist said that this was reported to Mr. Abbott and Ms. Harris in July 2014. Neither Mr. Abbott nor Ms. Harris could recall this, although they recalled other concerns reported by this activist.

77. The complaint referred to at paragraph 16 above included allegations about unidentified persons on RoadTrip events. It also included an allegation of sexual assault involving two people unconnected to Mr. Clarke, RoadTrip or this investigation. Mr Phillips said that he discussed this particular issue with Ms. Harris. They agreed that it was best for the author of the email to come to CCHQ to speak to Mr. Phillips in person. In his view, this was necessary to establish the correct approach for dealing with the complaint. Mr. Phillips invited them to a meeting to discuss the email. The meeting did not take place, because they were unable to meet during weekday office hours and Mr. Phillips was unable to meet after hours. He also preferred to meet face to face. As a consequence no meeting took place and the complaint was not investigated by Mr. Phillips or his team. However, Ms. Harris had taken steps to investigate the allegation of sexual assault and encouraged the alleged victim to make a formal complaint to CCHQ, although in the event no formal complaint was made
I can find no evidence that there was any effort made to fix the broken safeguarding processes. Let's just hope that the Pincher affair actually results in the Conservatives looking after it's staff and volunteers properly. There is a pattern and it is one that Boris Johnson, as leader of the Conservative party must be aware of and clearly doesn't care about. 

If the sad death of Elliott Johnson had been taken seriously by the Tories, then they wouldn't be inthis mess now. I can only wonder what Mr Johnsons parents are thinking right now. The truly sad thing for me is that I know one of Elliott Johnson's friends. He was working with him at the Conservative Party. He now has nothing at all to do with the Party. 

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