Norris wins backing of Tories to rejoin race for mayor

STEVEN NORRIS, the former Tory transport minister, announced yesterday that he would rejoin the race for London mayor, after reassurance from senior figures that neither his extra-marital affairs nor his pro- gay rights stance would pose problems for the party.

Although William Hague will not publicly endorse Mr Norris at this stage, the former minister said yesterday that he was sure he had approval at all levels. He said: "I wouldn't have dreamt of standing if I felt that it wasn't something William Hague and his colleagues would be keen on."

Mr Norris, a confirmed heterosexual who never denied tabloid reports that he had had several affairs, briefly seemed likely to be hit by controversy over the Conservatives' stance on Section 28. Shaun Woodward, the Tories' London spokesman, was sacked last week for his opposition to the rule banning promotion of homosexuality in schools, and Mr Norris shares his view. However, the party leadership has made it clear that mayoral candidates are not bound by the same strict rules as frontbenchers. Mr Norris said yesterday: "As it happens, I don't take the same view as William and he has made it very clear that that's a matter for me. I think it's very healthy to have that degree of independence, and I know that William feels the same."

The party needed a credible candidate, not necessarily one with a spotless personal life, he added. "I think this is what the Conservatives need. They need someone who can actually win. You can either say it is fortunate or unfortunate that all my skeletons are dancing around the pages of any tabloid you care to read. I'm not proud of that, I'm not promoting that. I simply think that you are what you are."

Mr Norris, 54, was beaten to the nomination in the first run of the selection process by Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare, who was later forced to withdraw after admitting he asked a friend to provide a false alibi for Daily Star libel trial in 1987.

Other candidates for the Conservative nomination include John Wilkinson, the Ruislip Northwood MP; Mark Kotecha, an Internet businessman; Bernard Gentry, a former Lambeth Conservative group leader; Baroness Miller, the Tory frontbench spokeswoman on Greater London in the Lords; and Ivan Massow and Andrew Boff, both businessmen.

Last night Lurline Champagnie, a black Conservative councillor in Harrow and a regular speaker at Tory conferences, announced her intention to stand. There were rumours that the former Asda chairman and Conservative Europe spokesman, Archie Norman, might stand, but last night he had made no declaration. Nominations close today.

Labour's campaign ran into fresh trouble as Frank Dobson's supporters were forced to deny a report that he was depressed and might drop out of the race. A spokesman for Mr Dobson described the report as rubbish. "He is doing the job because he wants to do it. He cares passionately about London. He has been in London politics for something like 30 years and he wants a strong focus on tackling inequality here," he said.

The spokesman promised full co-operation with an investigation by the Data Protection Registrar into whether Mr Dobson's use of party membership lists was in breach of the law. "Everything has been done according to the rules," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all