Former BBC presenter ‘steps down’ as Tory candidate following ‘ill-judged’ rape comments

Nick Conrad at Radio Norfolk. Photo: Bill Smith

Nick Conrad at Radio Norfolk. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2012

The Conservative candidate for Broadland Nick Conrad has announced he is standing down over 'ill-judged comments' during a radio discussion about a rape case.

Nick Conrad, 34, had received the backing of the local party on Wednesday to run for the seat held by Tory Keith Simpson, who has stepped down after 22 years as an MP.

But he has been under pressure to step down for comments he made in 2014 during a radio conversation about footballer Ched Evans.

The former Sheffield United striker was originally convicted of rape and jailed in 2012 before the conviction was quashed and he was cleared altogether at a retrial in 2016.

Conrad made controversial comments during a live debate about Evans after the footballer initially returned to train with Sheffield United.

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He said: "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."

He also said: "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?"

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In a statement issued on Thursday night Conrad 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."

Labour's Angela Rayner said the comments were "proof that the party is infected with sexism".

She said: "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.

"Nick Conrad's views should be consigned to the dustbin of history. They have no place in the 21st century, let alone in parliament.

"Boris Johnson's defence of Nick Conrad came as no surprise. Johnson himself wrote that the way to deal with advice from a female colleague was to 'just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way', he has been accused of squeezing the thigh of a young journalist at a work lunch and he abstained on a vote to extend abortion rights to women in Northern Ireland.

"As long as Boris Johnson is prime minister, we risk losing the hard-won rights that women before us gave up their lives and liberty to attain."

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