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Who is Daniel Korski? Tory mayoral candidate who was forced to quit over sexual harassment allegations

Former Downing Street aide Daniel Korski has abandoned his campaign to become mayor of London after sexual harassment allegations were levelled against him by a TV producer.

Mr Korski, 46, said on Wednesday that the “news agenda is becoming a distraction from the race and the Conservative Party” though he continues to deny the claims.

Spectator journalist to Downing Street aide

A Danish-born, Cambridge-educated former Spectator journalist, Mr Korski worked for Tory MP Andrew Mitchell before joining Downing Street as deputy head of the policy unit under David Cameron in 2013.

His time in Downing Street saw his involvement in a number of controversies over policy issues, including proposals to charge foreign students to attend state schools, and interventions in favour of private taxi app Uber.

He remained at No 10 until 2016, when the Brexit referendum triggered Mr Cameron’s resignation – with the departing PM handing Mr Korski a CBE in his resignation honours.

After his exit from Downing Street, Mr Korski sought to become an influential figure in the private sector, and set up PUBLIC, a firm that says it “advises governments, public bodies and partners seeking to digitally innovate their services and systems”.

Allegations first raised

In 2017, Victoria producer Daisy Goodwin publicly alleged that a Downing Street official had “touched her breast” during a meeting in 2013, though she did not publicly name the person involved.

At the time, she wrote in the Radio Times: “I attempted to turn the conversation to turning exports into unmissable TV. At the end of the meeting we both stood up and the official, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast.

“I looked at the hand and then in my best Lady Bracknell voice said, ‘Are you actually touching my breast?’ He dropped his hand and laughed nervously. I swept out in what can only be called high dudgeon.”

Goodwin wrote: “I wasn’t traumatised, I was cross, but by the next day it had become an anecdote, The Day I Was Groped In Number 10 – an account of male delusion.

“It didn’t occur to me to report the incident, I was fine, after all, and who on earth would I report it to?

“But now in the light of all the really shocking stories that have come out about abusive behaviour by men in power from Hollywood to Westminster, I wonder if my Keep Calm and Carry on philosophy, inherited from my parents, was correct? The answer is, I am not sure.”

Mr Korski was not named by Ms Goodwin at the time – but he issued a statement to The Telegraph, which said: “I categorically deny any allegation of inappropriate behaviour. Any such allegation would not only be totally false but also totally bizarre.”

Run for layor of London

Mr Korski came back to prominence this year when he announced he would run in the 2024 London mayoral contest, seeking the Tory nomination to take on Labour’s Sadiq Khan.

In May, he told i: “I have not been in government in the last seven years, but I have proven that I’m willing to drive issues in my community, create change where it’s required, build organisations and lead people.”

While nearly a dozen candidates applied to be the Tory candidate, Mr Korski was this month named as one of only three shortlisted Tories, alongside London Assembly member Susan Hall and criminal barrister Mozammel Hossain – with Tory members in London set to pick a final candidate in a ballot running from 4 July to 18 July.

There were claims that Mr Korski was Downing Street’s preferred candidate ahead of Ms Hall, a Boris Johnson loyalist, while others – including minister for London, Paul Scully, and former Johnson aide Samuel Kasumu – faced being shut out of the race.

Allegations resurface

Mr Korski’s campaign was struck a blow on Monday, when Ms Goodwin publicly named him as the man she had written about in 2017.

She wrote for The Times: “Naively I assumed that if everyone already knew then his egregious behaviour would not be tolerated any more. But now the spad who groped me, aka Daniel Korski, is running to be the Tory candidate for mayor of London. This I think is a reason to name him… if there are other women who have had similar experiences with him I hope this article will encourage them to come forward.”

Mr Korski virulently denied the allegations, in a statement that said: “As a father, I am especially committed to making sure everyone feels safe on the streets of London.”

While Downing Street and Conservative Campaign Headquarters initially resisted calls to intervene, arguing that there had not been a formal complaint, Mr Korski said he had disclosed the issue to the party when applying to run for mayor.

He said: “During the process, I was asked about if there were any outstanding issues the party may be aware of. I said to the party, seven years ago there was a story, I was never named in the story. As far as I know, there was no investigation, but I did mention this to the party.”

Ms Goodwin confirmed on Wednesday that she had now formally informed the Cabinet Office, although she said it was “harder than trying to get a telephone engineer”.

A Downing Street spokesperson said on Wednesday: “Obviously these allegations are very serious. They are allegations that have obviously been denied by Daniel Korski himself. They should be handled in the proper way.”

Amid reports three more women could come forward with allegations of inappropriate behaviour, Mr Korski took the decision to pull out of the race “with a heavy heart” on Wednesday.

“The pressure on my family because of this false and unproven allegation, and the inability to get a hearing for my message of ‘The London Dream’, makes it impossible for my campaign to carry on,” he said in a statement.

Ms Goodwin said: “I am glad he has withdrawn – it shows that women can speak out against misbehaviour in the workplace and be believed.

“If I was in the ethics department of the Cabinet Office, I would be wondering why such behaviour went unchecked in Downing Street.”

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