Support was fading yesterday for Tory London mayoral hopeful Daniel Korski after he was accused of groping a top TV writer and producer in Downing Street.
Mr Korski issued his second strong denial in as many days as he fought to salvage his campaign.
But Tory education minister Robert Halfon reportedly ‘paused’ his support for the businessman and entrepreneur yesterday.
And other senior Tories, including Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove and former Cabinet Minister Nadhim Zahawi, remained silent over whether they were still backing him.
It comes after the creator of hit ITV drama Victoria, Daisy Goodwin, said Mr Korski groped her breast during a visit to No 10 around a decade ago when he was an adviser to former prime minister David Cameron.
The moment that Daniel Korski is seen leaving early, after allegations emerge of breast touching at the London Environment Hustings with Conservative mayoral contenders
The creator of hit ITV drama Victoria, Daisy Goodwin, said Mr Korski groped her breast during a visit to No 10 around a decade ago when he was an adviser to former prime minister David Cameron
She previously spoke about the alleged assault in 2017 but it was the first time she named Mr Korski.
Last night she confirmed she had made a formal complaint to the Cabinet Office.
He is one of three Tories battling it out for the Conservative nomination in the London mayoral election in May 2024.
During a TV interview, Mr Korski, 46, repeatedly denied the accusation.
Asked why his recollection of the meeting with Ms Goodwin differed so much from hers, he told TalkTV: ‘I don’t know how she could have come away with that perception [that he assaulted her]. I certainly didn’t leave the meeting feeling that I had done anything wrong, and subsequently even wrote to her, congratulating her on some of her professional success. But I don’t really know why she felt the way she did.’
He said Ms Goodwin did not respond to his letters.
Asked whether he thought Ms Goodwin was ‘making it up’, he said: ‘Look, I can’t really explain that. All I can say is that she’s wrong and that I absolutely didn’t do what’s alleged.’
He said ‘categorically no’ when asked if any similar accusations had ever been made against him, and insisted that No 10 never raised the allegation with him at the time or subsequently.
Asked if he expected anyone else to come forward with more allegations, he said: ‘To the best of my knowledge, absolutely, I don’t expect anybody to.’
He said he told the Tory party about the accusation during the vetting process for his candidacy and confirmed he will ‘absolutely’ continue with his campaign.
In a written statement yesterday, Mr Korski appeared to put the accusation down to politics being ‘a rough and challenging business’.
The Tory party said it would not investigate the allegation because the proper organisation to do so would be the Cabinet Office, because at the time of the alleged incident Mr Korski was a special adviser employed by the government.
It is understood the Cabinet Office would not investigate until it received a formal complaint. Ms Goodwin, 61, last night said: ‘I have made a formal complaint via email to the Cabinet Office.’
Mr Korski is one of three Tories battling it out for the Conservative nomination in the London mayoral election in May 2024. During a TV interview, he repeatedly denied the accusation
In an article for The Daily Mail on Monday, she described how she arrived at No 10 for talks with Mr Korski about an idea for a TV show around a decade ago.
They had met at a social event two weeks before and he believed a show could be written about the trade department’s attempts to work with small and medium sized businesses in exporting their goods around the world.
Ms Goodwin wrote: ‘At the end of the meeting we both stood up and Korski, to my astonishment, put his hand on my breast. I looked at the hand and then in my most affronted 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.’
Ms Goodwin did not make a complaint at the time.
She revealed the alleged incident in an article for the Radio Times in 2017 – in the wake of the #MeToo movement – although she did not identify Mr Korski. Monday was the first time she named him publicly.
Explaining her decision to name him now after learning he was running to be the capital’s mayor, she wrote: ‘Part of Korski’s campaign is that he wants to make London safer for women. This strikes me as the ultimate irony… it makes me queasy to think that the man who clearly got a thrill out of groping me under a portrait of Mrs Thatcher, should be someone who can be relied on to make judgment calls about how to protect the opposite sex.’
Ms Goodwin began her career at the BBC making arts documentaries before joining production company Talkback, where she made Grand Designs.
She started Silver River Productions in 2005 before selling it to Sony in 2012 to focus on writing.
A Tory spokesman said: ‘The party has an established Code of Conduct and formal processes where complaints can be made in confidence.
‘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.’
The Cabinet Office was contacted for comment.