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Sunday, 12 December, 1999, 13:54 GMT
Norris: Car salesman driven to office

Archer and Norris Lord Archer and Steven Norris

A former car salesman, Steven Norris has always known plenty about transport and fast living.

London Mayor
He was born in Liverpool 54 years ago, and knew the Beatles when they were schoolboys.

After reading law at Oxford he decided to make some money in the motor industry, and his skill as a salesman ensured he did just that.

Mr Norris entered parliament as MP for Oxford East in 1983, lost his seat in 1987 but returned to Westminster as MP for Epping Forest in a by-election a year later.

A staunch Catholic, he rose to the post of transport minister in the Major government.

But he remains best-known for the well-documented series of affairs he pursued during his 30-year marriage to his wife, Vicky.

When he announced his intention to contest the Tory mayor candidacy, he also revealed plans to marry again, to Emma Courtney, his fourth mistress with whom he has a child.

The news was slightly muted when his wife's father pointed out that the couple had not yet divorced.

Dropped his guard

During his campaign, he promised better architecture on council estates and support for grammar schools.

And as an ex-transport minister and director of the Road Haulage Association he had credibility when he promised investment in buses and the tube.

However, he uncharacteristically dropped his media guard when he was caught on camera promising never to support Lord Archer "alive or dead".

His judgment proved sound after the peer's withdrawal in disgrace but Mr Norris admitted he felt uncomfortable in the "I told you so" role.

Second time round, Nozza, as he was once dubbed in the tabloid press, looked certain to win the nomination.

'Support of the leadership'

Mr Norris called himself "The Conservative who can win" and many suggested his philandering, and the fact that he had not denied it, might even work in his favour with voters.

Never afraid to raise his head above the parapet, he openly disagreed with the shadow cabinet over their support for Section 28, the law preventing local councils from promoting homosexuality.

Despite this, he believed he had the support of the party leadership and it was their encouragement which persuaded him to stand again.

But at the weekend the 12 members of the Tory mayoral executive decided he was not made of the right stuff after all.

The move came after senior party officials in Mr Norris's former constituency claimed he had lied in his personal life and so was not fit to represent the party.

Mr Norris counter-claimed that his accusers were motivated by malice and that their allegations were unfounded.

Such was the outcry at his expulsion from the selection process that the party has taken extraordinary steps to reinstate him.

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See also:
11 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Tories reject Norris for mayor
11 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
The remaining Tory four
12 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Norris warns of mayor backlash

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