Conservative candidate Nick Conrad stands down over "ill-judged" comments

7 November 2019, 22:12

Boris Johnson has criticised Nick Conrad's comments
Boris Johnson has criticised Nick Conrad's comments. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Conservative candidate for Broadland has announced he will stand down over his "ill-judged comments" during a radio discussion about a rape case.

Former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Nick Conrad was selected on Wednesday to stand for Broadland despite the controversy over his comments in 2014 saying women should "keep your knickers on".

But following heavy criticism of his selection, he said on Thursday he would be standing aside as the media attention was becoming a "distraction".

A full statement from the Mr Conrad read: "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.

Nick Conrad has now stepped down as a candidate
Nick Conrad has now stepped down as a candidate. Picture: PA

“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.”

His decision came after Boris Johnson said his original remarks had been "completely unacceptable".

The Prime Minister told reporters: "Those comments are completely unacceptable, he has apologised long ago but I can't stress that those comments are completely unacceptable."

Mr Conrad made the remarks during a discussion about former Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans, who had been jailed for rape - although his conviction was subsequently quashed and he was cleared at a retrial in 2016.

He said at the time: "I think women need to be more aware of a man's sexual desire that when you're in that position that you are about to engage in sexual activity there's a huge amount of energy in the male body, there's a huge amount of will and intent and it's very difficult for many men to say no when they are whipped up into a bit of a storm."

Mr Conrad added: "What I'm trying to say is that women also have to understand that when a man's given certain signals he'll wish to act upon them and if you don't wish to give out the wrong signals, it's best, probably, to keep your knickers on and not get into bed with him. Does that make sense?"

The comments were investigated by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, with no further action taken after Mr Conrad.

The BBC apologised.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who was among those calling for him to stand down, said he should never have been selected by the Tories.

"Nick Conrad has finally resigned as a Conservative candidate but the fact that he 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," she said.

"Nick Conrad's views should be consigned to the dustbin of history.

"They have no place in the 21st century, let alone in Parliament. "