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British Conservative minister Grant Shapps resigns after bullying suicide

British government minister Grant Shapps has resigned after accepting responsibility for failing to rein in bullying in the ruling party. A young activist claimed that bullying had led him to take his life in his note.

International Development Minister Grant Shapps, who was also a former Conservative Party chairman, resigned from his position after saying he took responsibility for hiring Mark Clarke as a youth campaign organizer in 2014.

In a suicide note found after he had killed himself by lying in front of a train in September, Elliott Johnson, a 21-year-old former writer for a Conservative Party blog, alleged that he had been bullied by Clarke.

According to an investigation by Britain's Guardian newspaper, Johnson had written a formal letter of complaint to the Conservative Party, alleging that Clarke had publicly pinned him in his chair, shouted abuse at him and threatened to "squash him like an ant."

Clarke, who has been expelled from the party, denied any wrongdoing.

In his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Shapps said that, although no written allegations were made against Clarke's conduct in the past, "the steady stream of those who raised smaller, more nuanced, objections should have perhaps set alarm bells ringing sooner."

"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," Shapps said.

Cameron accepted Shapps' resignation and praised his work for the party. He added that Shapps has "much more to give in the years ahead."

Shapps has been replaced by Nick Hurd as the British government's international development minister.

av/jm (AFP, Reuters)

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