Grant Shapps resigns: 'The buck should stop with me' - the former international development minister's letter in full

The MP has left his post as international development minister following the apparent suicide of a young Conservative Party activist

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 28 November 2015 17:04
comments
Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party Grant Shapps gestures as he speaks during the opening day of the annual Conservative Party Conference at the ICC in Birmingham, central England on October 7, 2012.
Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party Grant Shapps gestures as he speaks during the opening day of the annual Conservative Party Conference at the ICC in Birmingham, central England on October 7, 2012.

Grant Shapps has resigned from his position as international development minister following allegations of inaction over bullying in the Conservative Party.

The father of Elliott Johnson, a 21-year-old Conservative Party activist who died in an apparent suicide, had called for him to step down. Shapps will remain the MP for Welwyn Hatfield.

Here is his full letter to David Cameron:

Dear Prime Minister,

In July 2014 I gave a second chance to former candidate Mark Clarke. Having been removed from the candidates list following the 2010 election, Clarke had gone on to establish a campaigning organisation called RoadTrip2015. He presented himself as having learned from his past experience, being more mature and wanting to prove himself again.

After some discussion, I appointed him in order to incorporate RoadTrip into our wider campaign. The aim being to better coordinate his activity with our rapidly expanding Team2015 target-seat operation.

During this summer and autumn, there have been widely reported, very serious allegations made about the conduct of this former activist, who has subsequently been expelled from the Party. I appreciate that there are ongoing coroner and Party investigations underway, yet whatever the outcome of these processes, I doubt any of this will bring much comfort to the Johnson family whose loss is simply unimaginable.

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.

Grant Shapps, left, and Mark Clarke, bottom right, during the 2014 Tory conference

In the end, I signed that letter appointing Mark Clarke 'Director of RoadTrip' 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.

Given the very serious nature of what has subsequently occurred and my role in appointing Mr Clarke, I cannot help but conclude that the only right course of action is for me to step down as a Minister in your government.

It has been an enormous honour to serve in your government which is making tremendous progress in taking Britain forward. You will have my full support from the backbenches, where I will also continue to work for my Welwyn Hatfield constituents who have elected me to serve.

But more than anything, I am deeply shocked and saddened by the recent death of Elliott Johnson and my thoughts are with his friends and family.

Yours ever,

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments