Former Conservative party chairman Lord Feldman has been cleared of ignoring allegations of bullying by a party activist in the run up to the 2015 election.
Feldman was at the centre of a probe into the death of Elliot Johnson, who claimed to have been bullied by Mark Clarke, the founder of the Conservatives' RoadTrip 2015 campaign, which bussed activists in to target seats in the run up to the election.
Reports had suggested that Feldman had been made aware of complaints about Clarke's alleged bullying of volunteers.
However, a probe by lawyers Clifford Chance has now cleared the former party chair, finding no evidence that Feldman was aware of any claims of abuse or harassment prior to a 14 August complaint from Johnson, one month before he died.
The law firm found that Feldman was aware of discontent around Clarke, as was David Cameron's election supremo Lynton Crosby, but this was specifically in relation to his use of the job title “director in CCHQ”, which he was instructed to cease using.
Clifford Chance found a total of 13 claims of bullying by Clarke, which included six allegations of sexual harassment and assault, including suggestions that he had propositioned activists or tried to kiss them.
Clarke has previously refuted all suggestions of wrong-doing, and declined to be interviewed by Clifford Chance.
In a statement issued to the firm, lawyers acting for Clarke said: “Mr Clarke has cooperated, and will continue to cooperate with the police, the Coroner and any other statutory body charged with investigating any matters relating to the subject matter of Clifford Chance’s investigation on behalf of the Conservative Party Board.
“The police investigation into Elliott Johnson’s death and other enquiries are ongoing, and it is not appropriate to respond to allegations until the end of those processes.
“However, the allegations made against Mr. Clarke in the Clifford Chance report are wholly untrue and unsubstantiated. Many are based on totally fabricated media reports. All these allegations are vehemently denied."
Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin said: “As we address the findings of this report I want to make clear that there can be no place for bullying behaviour in our Party and we all have a responsibility to act when it occurs.
The actions we are taking today will continue to ensure that volunteers, who are so vital to our party, can flourish.”