Tories accused of getting 'everything wrong' with their bullying scandal inquiry

Nine key witnesses are 'refusing to give evidence'

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Indy Politics

The Tories have been accused of failing bullying victims after nine of the party’s activists refused to give evidence to its official inquiry. 

Alleged victims at the heart of the bullying scandal that has engulfed the Conservative party following the death of Elliott Johnson said they had lost confidence in the probe. 

The law firm Clifford Chance, which is managing the inquiry, told witnesses it could not guarantee their anonymity. 

Labour said the Tories had “got everything wrong” with the inquiry. 

“It took weeks of pressure for the Tories to establish an independent review about bullying allegations,” Jon Asworth, a Shadow Cabinet minister, said. 

“Now it seems that 'independent' review has lost the confidence of victims. So far they seem to have got everything wrong.”

The inquiry was set up to investigate allegations of bullying in its youth campaigning organisation RoadTrip, which was run by Mark Clarke. 

Mr Johnson, 21, claimed in his suicide note that he had been bullied by Mr Clarke and since his death in September a number of other Tory activists have made similar bullying claims. 

Mr Clarke, who has been expelled from the Conservative party for life, denies all the allegations against him. 

According to the BBC, one of the alleged bullying victims said she was afraid to give evidence to the inquiry. 

She reportedly told Newsnight: “I am worried that Mark Clarke and his associates will find out who I am, put my ID concretely with what I have said, find out where I live, who I am, where I work - and that he and his associates will come after me and try to use force and intimidation to try to get me retract what I said."

A spokesman for the Conservative party said it was “not appropriate to comment until we can establish the facts”. 

A Clifford Chance spokesperson said: "We take issues of confidentiality extremely seriously. The Conservative party has no say in who we speak to or how we conduct our investigation.

"They have not asked, and we have not told them who we are meeting. Where witnesses previously gave evidence to the Conservative party and were told that their evidence would be kept confidential, or where they request that our discussions with them remain confidential, we will not use that information in our report without their consent.

"We will also observe the relevant legal restrictions on identifying any victims of alleged sexual offences."

The firm also said their investigation had made "significant progress to date."