Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall says she no longer feels safe in London at night and has begun using her keys as a potential weapon in case she is attacked.
Ms Hall has vowed to put policing and crime at the centre of her campaign to defeat Labour mayor Sadiq Khan in next May’s elections.
During a phone-in on LBC Radio, Ms Hall was asked by presenter Nick Ferrari whether she felt safe walking home at night, she said: “No, not any more.”
She said: “You ask most women - if you are walking along at night and you can hear somebody behind you, you think: ‘Who is that?’ I have spoken to men and they don’t feel that.
“Talking to young women, they carry their keys with the sharp bit hanging out of their hands.”
She said many other women had since told her they took similar precautions. Asked if she did likewise, Ms Hall said: “Since I heard that, yes I did.
“I hadn’t thought about it. You do feel far more threatened. The person behind you is almost certainly going to be fine. It’s just at night and the echo of the steps and you look behind you and thing ‘oh’.”
She added: “I would say in the last five years I have been more concerned than I’ve been before. We need more of our [police] officers on the streets.”
Ms Hall said she would use “common sense policies” to defeat Mr Khan.
She “sincerely apologised” for offence caused by her use of Twitter, now X, in the past. This includes tweets by others referring to “Londonistan” and featuring Enoch Powell.
She said she had been a “serial Tweeter” but had sought to be more careful since becoming the Tory candidate.
She said she couldn’t remember retweeting a post by Katie Hopkins which described Mr Khan as "our nipple height mayor of Londonistan".
She brushed off liking a tweet with a picture of Enoch Powell by saying: "If you’re a serial tweeter, you tend to go through liking all sorts of things. If anybody is offended, then obviously I would apologise."
She repeated her pledge to switch off the Ulez extension “on day one” of being elected – saying there would be no need to hold a public consultation because the election result would carry more weight.
She said she would allow the Metropolitan police to use the redundant Ulez numberplate-reading cameras in outer London to check who was looking to enter or leave the capital.
“These are a massive tool for the police to know, if they’ve got somebody they’re looking for in a vehicle, they could recognise whether they were leaving or entering London,” she said.
She described the Ulez expansion as “nothing but a tax grab on poorer people”, and said it would have a negligible impact on improving the capital’s air quality.
She said “it doesn’t bother me one iota” that she had not been invited to address the Tory party conference.