29 Nov 2015

UK minster quits amid Tory bullying claims

7:23 am on 29 November 2015

A former chairman of Britain's Conservative Party has resigned from his post as a junior minister in response to allegations that he failed to act on warnings about bullying within the party.

Grant Shapps, who chaired Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives from 2012 until May this year, quit as an international development minister after saying he took responsibility for hiring an aide who became the subject of complaints about bullying.

"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," Mr Shapps said in a letter to the prime minister.

Claims have engulfed the Conservatives following the apparent suicide in September of a youth activist.

Elliott Johnson, 21, had made accusations of bullying against the party aide, Mark Clarke, hired by Mr Shapps to organise campaigners.

Mr Clarke had been struck off a list of approved Tory election candidates after complaints were made about his behaviour in 2010 and in his letter, Mr Shapps acknowledged having given him a "second chance".

Mr Clarke has rejected allegations of bullying, sexual assault and intimidation.

- Reuters / BBC