Receive free UK politics & policy updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest UK politics & policy news every morning.
The Conservative party has signalled it will not investigate sexual harassment allegations made against one of the candidates seeking the Tory nomination for London mayor.
Daniel Korski, who is on the three-person shortlist to run as the party’s hopeful in the capital’s mayoral race next spring, has flatly denied groping a television producer 10 years ago when he was a special adviser in Downing Street.
On Tuesday Daisy Goodwin, creator of ITV series Victoria, wrote an article in The Times accusing Korski of having touched her breast during a one-on-one meeting in Number 10.
Korski said it was a “baseless allegation from the past” and added in a statement: “I categorically deny any wrongdoing.”
In response to the allegations, Conservative Campaign Headquarters said the party “has an established code of conduct and formal processes where complaints can be made in confidence”.
It continued: “The party considers all complaints made under the code of conduct but does not conduct investigations where the party would not be considered to have primary jurisdiction over another authority.”
A Tory insider questioned the basis on which the party could investigate the claim. “She says something happened 10 years ago, he denies it. Nobody else present. How are we supposed to investigate that?”
The insider added that it “wouldn’t be our jurisdiction”, but a matter for the Cabinet Office, since Korski had been a special adviser employed by the government at the time of the alleged incident.
Downing Street refused to be drawn on the individual case or whether there would be a Cabinet Office investigation.
Later on Tuesday, Korski told TalkTV that he was continuing with his campaign. He added that during the vetting process for mayoral candidates he had flagged there had been “a story” seven years ago in which he was not named and about which “there was no investigation”.
Goodwin previously wrote about the alleged incident in an article for Radio Times magazine during the height of the MeToo movement in 2017, but had not publicly identified the special adviser.
Writing in The Times, Goodwin said: “When we both stood up at the end of the meeting and went to the door, the spad [special adviser] stepped towards me and suddenly put his hand on my breast. Astonished, I said loudly, ‘Are you really touching my breast?’ The spad sprang away from me and I left.”
She said Korski’s decision to contest the London mayoralty was “a reason to name him” now as the special adviser involved in the alleged incident. She also claimed that after her original article came out, “everyone in the media seemed to know his identity”.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Korski has “clearly got to answer” questions about his alleged behaviour.
The allegations are the latest controversy in the Conservative party’s selection process to find a candidate for the London mayoral election in 2024 to challenge Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan, who is seeking an unprecedented third term.
The process has been marred by an allegation hinting at foul play, which was later withdrawn, and by grumblings about the lack of starpower among the hopefuls who have thrown their hat into the ring.
Senior Tory insiders have expressed surprise that Paul Scully, minister for London since 2020, did not make the final three when the shortlist was announced earlier this month. The two other candidates alongside Danish-born entrepreneur Korski are London Assembly member Susan Hall and barrister Mozammel Hossain.
One Conservative MP representing a London seat said Scully had been “leading the fight in outer London” against the expansion of the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) to the suburbs, which has proven controversial with some residents.
“Nobody can get their head around why Paul wasn’t in the final. He can turn out the vote in outer London,” said the MP.
The final candidate will be announced on July 19 following a series of hustings and a ballot of party members.