Tories in Turmoil: Constituency 'will not deselect Norris': Affair closed: Junior minister will not be deselected, writes Will Bennett

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The Independent Online
STEVEN NORRIS, the junior Government minister who last year was revealed to have had a string of affairs, is not in danger of being deselected by his constituency Conservative association.

Party officials in Epping Forest, Essex, last night denied reports that Mr Norris, 48, was likely to be a victim of Conservative moral outrage in the wake of the Tim Yeo scandal.

John Padfield, the deputy Conservative leader on Epping Forest Council and a member of the constituency executive, said last night: 'We take the view in the constituency party that Mr Norris has been a very capable MP and minister and should continue to serve us.'

During last year's Conservative Party conference it was alleged that Mr Norris, the Transport Minister for London, had had five affairs, some of them at the same time.

He left the conference in Blackpool early, after the claims first surfaced in the press.

However, unlike Mr Yeo, he managed to keep his job in the Government. This was partly because he was separated from his wife Vicky, to whom he had been married for 24 years, although it was alleged that his first affair had begun nine years into the marriage.

He also survived politically because the story broke during a busy news period and because it predated the current linking of Conservative MPs' private lives with the 'back to basics' policy.

However, at the beginning of December, Mr Norris did have to face a meeting of his constituency party executive, at which questions about his private life were put to him. Some members at the meeting expressed unease.

But Mr Norris took greater care than Mr Yeo did to mend fences with members of the committee, who could deselect him as their candidate for the next general election.

Mr Padfield said: 'It is unfortunate for him that this has all blown up again. A balanced view was taken by the executive that he should stay.'