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Norfolk Tory candidate says 'I'm Sorry' over selection affair row

PUBLISHED: 11:00 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 21:45 07 July 2010

Prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss

Prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Norfolk, Elizabeth Truss

Shaun Lowthorpe

The woman at the centre of a political row between grassroots and high ranking Conservatives last night said she was sorry for the storm which surrounded her selection - but insisted she had been open and honest about her past.

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The woman at the centre of a political row between grassroots and high ranking Conservatives last night said she was sorry for the storm which surrounded her selection - but insisted she had been open and honest about her past.

Elizabeth Truss was selected to fight the safe Conservative seat of South-West Norfolk last month. But the decision has been mired in controversy in a row about whether local activists had been made aware of an affair she had with former Tory frontbencher Mark Field.

Speaking exclusively to the EDP, Ms Truss, a married mother-of-two, insisted she had been upfront about her private life but regretted there had been a “miscommunication” over who knew what and when.

The 34-year-old said she had been clear about the affair at the start of the selection process, which is handled by Central Office, and believed this would be passed on to local constituency officers.

But that does not appear to have been the case, with local activists furious at being kept in the dark.

“I am sorry about this miscommunication,” Ms Truss said. “If I had known what I now know, I would have made sure people knew. I believed people had been aware.

“As far as I was concerned I was open and transparent but I can see a miscommunication has happened.”

She said she had been angered at negative national media coverage the county had attracted since the story broke and the “Neanderthal” and “Turnip Taliban” jibes aimed at some Tory activists over their stance on her selection.

“I think it's completely offensive, what people have been saying. I certainly haven't met anyone that fits that description in the constituency,” she said. “I think it's patronising and offensive. I don't think it's true.”

And she hinted at an inner steel by setting out her determination to press on and fight the seat at the next general Election.

“I am a fighter,” she said. “It's in my nature. It's not a situation of my making. I am not saying I am blameless but I am going to do my best to work with the people of South-West Norfolk.

“I will be prepared to speak up on their behalf. I have character and sticking power, and staying power. That's what I hope I am demonstrating in the situation I find myself in. I am committed to carrying on with this.

“I am sorry that this has happened. I want now to show the people of South-West Norfolk I am very committed and I will do a good job as their candidate, should I be elected.

“We need to find a positive way forward. There were some communication issues in the selection process. However I was put forward by the local association and I received more than 50pc of the vote.

“The view was had they known about the affair it wouldn't have been an issue as it's in the past. I don't think there ought to be a re-run. I have been open and transparent.

“Whatever the issues about how it was communicated, I want people to know I was open and I was honest, and this was not something I tried to hide.

“My feeling is there is a lot of misunderstanding and myths around at the moment, which I have to address and to really put forward my perspective on the issues for South West Norfolk - what do we think about the issues such as the widening of the A11 and to make sure we ensure our rural schools aren't closed, to make sure we have the right infrastructure to help the development of Thetford.”

She also said she had been grateful for the support she received from party activists locally and people she had met in the constituency.

“I have had a lot of support from people in the association. I have been out and about in the constituency and already people have been very supportive and very kind about the situation I find myself in.

“My experience from talking to electors in the constituency is that they are prepared to listen.”


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