A Tory activist whose suicide caused scandal inside the Conservative party may have been in a gay relationship with a man accused of bullying him.
21-year-old Elliott Johnson is alleged to have killed himself in September – a month after he first raised concerns about the way he was being treated in the Conservative Party youth wing. An inquest into his death is pending.
Following the death, youth campaign organiser Mark Clarke has been expelled from the Conservatives, former party chair Grant Shapps has resigned as a minister, and the entire leadership of youth wing Conservative Future has been suspended.
Ahead of Mr Johnson’s inquest, one of the activists who is at the centre of the allegations has spoken out – to claim that he and Mr Johnson were in a relationship at the time of his death.
Andre Walker was named in a suicide note released by Mr Johnson parents. A secret recording made by Elliott prior to his death also allegedly shows Mr Walker “threatening” him the activist over his bullying complaints.
The suicide note reads in part: “I have been bullied by Mark Clarke and betrayed by Andre Walker. Now all my bridges are burnt. Where can I go from here?”
However, Mr Walker has broken his silence and spoken out – to claim he was actually in a relationship with Elliott Johnson until his death.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics, he said: “On the day the covert recording took place, Elliott asked me to come with him to meet Mark Clarke.
“We went to the pub together and met Mark. What you hear is me getting frustrated partway through and getting argumentative – what you don’t hear is Elliott invites me back to his place because I missed the last train, and us leaving the pub together.”
Claiming he and Mr Johnson were an item, he continued: “We hit it off straight away, and the relationship started pretty soon after that. And it lasted until the day he died.
“As far as I was concerned, the reason that I have been coy about that is that I know that saying that will upset the family.
“I’m very sorry about that – it’s not my intention to go out and upset and offend people.
“But we’ve got to discuss this issue, we’ve got to discuss the issue of homophobia and we’ve got to discuss why people, even as close to him as me weren’t told about the mental health problems.”
It comes after the Mail reported the conclusions of a transport police report, which allegedly makes clear that Mr Johnson had battled with depression and struggled with his sexuality in the past, falling out with his parents and attempting suicide on a number of occasions.
However, his father Ray Johnson responded: “It is totally wrong to say we argued with Elliott over being gay, nor is there any mention of rows in the police report into his death. It is a distortion. I want to know who leaked it and why. It looks like a smear.”
“When Elliott told us he thought he might be gay at about 16, we did what any loving parents would do: we talked about it to him and tried to help. He wasn’t sure himself at first.”
He told the BBC: “Elliott took his life because he was being bullied and picked on generally by certain persons. He was treated badly, that’s why Elliott took his life. He was treated appallingly by people and organisations.”
But Andre Walker says that he has been unfairly blamed – and has been shut out of memorials for Mr Johnson.
He said: “I wasn’t able to go to the funeral service because of the things that were said about me, and that was very hurtful, because I would have liked to have been there.
“Similarly, I don’t know where Elliott’s final resting place is – I would like to visit it, but whether that’s going to be possible I don’t know.
“The one memorial service I was able to go to, somebody screamed at me and I was effectively thrown out, which has made it impossible for me to pay my respects in the way I feel I ought to.”
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