A conservative activist from the U.K. accused driving one of his young colleagues to suicide is breaking his silence.
21-year-old Elliot Johnson took his own life last September, after weeks of being harassed by other members in the Conservative Party youth wing.
In his suicide note, he specifically name-checked two of his group’s leaders, writing: “I have been bullied by Mark Clarke and betrayed by Andre Walker. Now all my bridges are burnt. Where can I go from here?”
Now, after months of keeping a low profile, Walker is finally sharing his side of the story.
Walker claims the accusations of bullying are simply untrue, and here’s why: He was in a romantic relationship with Johnson at the time of his suicide.
“We hit it off straight away, and the relationship started pretty soon after that,” he recently told BBC’s Sunday Politics. “And it lasted until the day he died.”
Walker went on to say they kept their relationship “coy” so as not to “upset the family.”
But Johnson’s family isn’t buying it. His father, Ray, says he knew his son was gay and that it wasn’t an issue.
“When Elliott told us he thought he might be gay at about 16, we did what any loving parents would do: we talked about it to him and tried to help,” he said, adding: “Elliot took his life because he was being bullied and picked on … He was treated badly, that’s why Elliot took his life.”
But Walker says the is being unfairly blamed. He also claims he’s been blacklisted from attending any of the young activist’s memorials.
“I wasn’t able to go to the funeral service because of the things that were said about me,” he says. “That was very hurtful.”
“Similarly, I don’t know where Elliot’s final resting place is,” he added. “I would like to visit it, but whether that’s going to be possible I don’t know.”
As a result of Johnson’s death, the leaders of the Conservative Party youth wing were all fired and the group dismantled. Johnson’s family is now requesting a formal inquest be opened into their son’s death and that investigators look into bullying claims.