The former minister's rejection came weeks after Lord Archer, the previous leading hopeful, had to quit in disgrace.
Last night Conservative Central Office was tight-lipped about the reasons for the move. But it is understood that members of the 25-strong executive, after interviews for the post, yesterday convinced colleagues to ditch Mr Norris because of his past affairs. A senior member of the London party said: "It just looks as if party members have not been allowed to make the same mistake twice."
Mr Norris felt "frustrated and humiliated" after failing to get through to the next stage. "I am not particularly surprised at the committee's decision," he said. "I was always aware of a small group within the party and their efforts to keep me off the list. Indeed that is why I was not willing to put my name forward.
"I only did so after considerable pressure from senior figures within the party who urged me to stand. Sadly, for the party, I have been proven right. "
Michael Ancram, the party chairman, last night expressed his surprise at Mr Norris's rejection.
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