Government minister Grant Shapps quits amid Conservative bullying allegations following death of Wisbech activist

Grant Shapps, who has resigned amid allegations he failed to deal with allegations of bullying withi

Grant Shapps, who has resigned amid allegations he failed to deal with allegations of bullying within the Conservative Party. Pic: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Government minister Grant Shapps has resigned from his role amid allegations he failed to act on claims of bullying in the Conservative youth wing, Downing Street has confirmed.

Elliott Johnson.

Elliott Johnson. - Credit: Archant

Mr Shapps told the prime minister in his resignation letter that the 'buck should stop with me' over issues while he was Conservative Party chairman.

His decision came after the parents of a former Wisbech Conservative activist believed to have killed himself called on the former party chairman to quit the government.

Ray and Alison Johnson, from Wisbech, had said their son Elliott, 21, who was found dead near Sandy railway station in Bedfordshire in September, would still be alive if Mr Shapps had behaved 'responsibly'.

Mr Johnson had called for Mr Shapps and party chairman Lord Feldman to resign over allegations they failed to act on claims of bullying within the party's youth wing.

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The party had said it was not aware of any complaints against Mark Clarke, who ran the party's 'Road Trip' operation during the general election campaign, until August.

He has since been expelled over bullying and blackmail allegations, but denies any wrongdoing.

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But Mr Shapps, today dramatically quit as international development minister.

In his letter to David Cameron, Mr Shapps wrote: 'Although neither the party nor I can find any record of written allegations of bullying, sexual abuse or blackmail made to the chairman's office prior to the election, I cannot help but feel that the steady stream of those who raised smaller, more nuanced, objections should have perhaps set alarm bells ringing sooner.

'In the end, I signed that letter appointing Mark Clarke 'director of Road Trip' and I firmly believe that whatever the rights and wrongs of a serious case like this, responsibility should rest somewhere.

'Over the past few weeks - as individual allegations have come to light - I have come to the conclusion that the buck should stop with me.'

Mr Cameron, who is in Malta for a Commonwealth summit, said, prior to Mr Shapps' resignation: 'I feel deeply for his parents. It is an appalling loss to suffer.

'In terms of what the Conservative Party should do, there needs to be and there is a proper inquiry to ask all the questions and interview all the people who have come forward. That will take place.'

The prime minister said an independent lawyer would oversee the process.

Elliott had recently graduated from Nottingham University with a 2:1 honours degree in history. He had worked for youth group Conservative Way Forward after leaving university but, just prior to his death, had moved to a part time role as a social media consultant.

British Transport Police have confirmed the death was not being treated as suspicious. An inquest was opened and adjourned in September.

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