LEADING Tory Grant Shapps on Saturday quit as international development minister amid claims he failed to act on allegations of bullying.
Claims have engulfed the Tories following the apparent suicide in September of youth activist Elliot Johnson, 21. Youth organiser Mark Clarke has rejected allegations of bullying, sexual assault and intimidation. He had been in charge of a campaigning initiative called RoadTrip which bussed young volunteers around the country.
Johnson’s father, Ray, said Shapps ‘should have resigned several weeks ago. It’s typical of these politicians, they cling on to the greasy pole for as long as they can. Eventually, they get kicked off or dragged off. The fact that they hang on does no one any favours. It makes them look less dignified. It justifies our view of Grant Shapps.
‘But there are others involved and we need to ensure there’s a clearout of all these unsavoury characters at CCHQ. There are other people involved in this scandal and we’ll take one pin down at a time if need be.’
It had emerged on Friday evening that Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi had written to Shapps, her successor as party co-chair, in January to demand action be taken against Clarke for abusing her on Twitter, and had not received a satisfactory response. Warsi said Clarke was a ‘disaster waiting to happen and this was common knowledge’.
Downing Street said on Saturday that PM Cameron was awaiting the results of an internal investigation. But Johnson’s father has called for an independent and external inquiry saying he believed the current investigation was ‘a cover up’.
He says he had no confidence in current party chairman Lord Feldman, a close friend of Cameron, who is conducting the internal inquiry and called for him to stand down from his position amid claims he too did not respond to warnings about Clarke.
In his resignation letter, Shapps said neither he nor the party could find any record of written allegations of bullying, sexual abuse or blackmail made to the chairman’s office before the general election in May but admitted that ‘objections should have perhaps set alarm bells ringing sooner’.