Rival candidates react to Nick Conrad stepping down
PUBLISHED: 08:54 08 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:15 08 November 2019
Rival candidates and members of the public have reacted to news that Nick Conrad has stepped down as Conservative election hopeful for Broadland after "ill-judged" comments he made about rape re-emerged.
Former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Mr Conrad beat two other contenders on Wednesday night and was chosen by the Broadland Conservative Association to fight the December 12 election.
But when comments made on his breakfast show in 2014 about the rape conviction of former Norwich City Football Club loan player Ched Evans resurfaced, Mr Conrad "reluctantly concluded" he had to stand down.
Mr Conrad implied that women were "partially responsible" for sexual assault and said they should "keep their knickers on" to stop rape.
Labour parliamentary candidate for Broadland Jessica Barnard tweeted: "News just in that Nick Conrad has withdrawn his candidacy, shamefully though out of concern for the Tory party, rather than concern for the women and rape victims impacted by his dangerous words."
She had previously tweeted facing Mr Conrad as an opponent was "unsettling" and added the Tories had "isolated and insulted me and countless other women" following his selection.
Green Party parlimenatary candidate for Broadland Andrew Boswell said he was "very relieved" Mr Conrad was not going forward as a candidate on Twitter.
Mr Boswell later tweeted Mr Conrad's statement and said: "No apology to the many people who have been deeply disturbed by his standing in the last 24 hours. Just sorry it was a bit of bother for the #Tory party."
And Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Broadland, Ben Goodwin, 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."
However, Brexit Party parliamentary candidate Alex Hayes has yet to comment.
Public reaction has largely been in support of the decision.
On this newspaper's website, Simon said: "I totally agree we can all make mistakes or unwanted comments, it's part of being human beings but I've never understood why a so called intellectual man employed by the local BBC as a local breakfast radio presenter would think his comments from the passed would not be dragged back into the public arena for discussion."
On Facebook, Heather Edmondson said: "Good. He should never have gone for it in the first place. Let it be a lesson to all MPs and those in high places."
Neil Frederick said: "Good. He should never have been nominated after his comments."
However, on Facebook, Bertie Hibberd defended Mr Conrad and said: "Shame for you Nick, unfortunately you were the victim of a witch hunt."
Frank Guyton said: "When no means no and heartfelt apologies mean nothing. Not a fan of Conrad but we all say things we later regret and for how many years do we have to be held accountable for them."
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."