Nick Conrad stands down as Conservative candidate after rape case comments row
PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:02 08 November 2019
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016
Nick Conrad has stepped down as the Conservative Party's candidate for a Norfolk seat in the general election just 24 hours after being selected.
Former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Mr Conrad was chosen by the Broadland Conservative Association as the constituency's Tory parliamentary candidate on Wednesday night, pipping two others to the post.
But he has been haunted by "ill-judged" comments he made during a 2014 radio conversation about the rape conviction of former Norwich City Football Club loan player Ched Evans, who was later cleared a retrial.
Following an intense backlash over the comments - including a remark that women should "keep their knickers on" - Mr Conrad said he would "reluctantly" stand down from the parliamentary race.
In a statement issued on Thursday night he said: "Five years ago I made ill-judged comments during an on-air radio discussion for which I made a genuine and heartfelt apology.
"Last night I was honoured to be made the Conservative candidate for Broadland and had hoped to become the MP for a constituency which is close to my heart.
"However it has become clear to me that the media attention on my previous comments have become a distraction.
"For me, the most important thing is for the Conservative Party to be successful in the forthcoming election - getting Brexit done and delivering on the people's priorities.
"This is why I have reluctantly concluded I must stand down to allow one of the other excellent candidates the opportunity to win this fantastic seat.
"I would like to thank Broadland Conservative Association for their support and wish the party every success in the election on December 12."
It came after prime minister Boris Johnson was quizzed about the comments on the campaign trail in Scotland on Thursday. Mr Johnson said Mr Conrad had "apologised long ago" but that his comments were "completely unacceptable".
Angela Rayner, Labour's shadow education secretary, called Mr Conrad's comments "despicable".
Responding to his resignation, she said: "The fact that he [Mr Conrad] was chosen in the first place and the fact that Boris Johnson stood by him is further proof that the Party is infected with sexism from top to bottom.
"Nick Conrad's views should be consigned to the dustbin of history. They have no place in the 21st century, let alone in parliament."
Ben Goodwin, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Broadland, said: "This is exactly the kind of chaos we have come to expect from the Conservative Party. The fact that Nick Conrad was overwhelmingly selected shows how thin the party benches must be.
"Ultimately any Conservative candidate just represents more of the same for Broadland. I look forward to facing the next one."