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Tory candidate quits over 'ill-judged' rape case remarks

Former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Nick Conrad stood down as a Conservative candidate. Credit: PA

A Conservative candidate who made “ill-judged comments” during a radio discussion about a high-profile rape case has announced he is standing down.

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”.

It comes as Labour candidate, Kate Ramsden, stood down over a social media post likening Israel to “an abused child who becomes an abusive adult”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised the comments Credit: Rick Findler/PA

Following criticism of his selection, Mr Conrad said he would be stepping aside as the media attention was becoming a "distraction".

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,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

Mr Conrad's comment came during a debate about Ched Evans' rape case. Credit: PA

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: “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.

Labour has also endured a difficult start to the campaign after some of its own candidates have stepped down. Credit: PA

Labour has also endured a difficult start to the campaign after some of its own candidates have stepped down.

Following Ms Ramsden, who was due to stand in Aberdeen but stood down for her remarks about Israel, Labour’s candidate for Edinburgh South, Frances Hoole, was also dropped after the party refused to endorse her following a social media attack on her SNP opponent, Joanna Cherry.

Ms Ramsden apologised unreservedly saying she could see that “many Jewish people had been hurt by my words”.

A Labour source said the party had taken “swift and robust action” after extra due diligence checks had uncovered material of concern.