Toby Young, the journalist whose appointment to the board of the government’s new Office for Students has drawn widespread criticism, is to stand down from the role to avoid becoming a “distraction” to the body’s work.
The decision by Mr Young, announced in a blog for the website of the Spectator, the right-wing magazine, comes the day after Jo Johnson, the universities minister, was forced into an uncomfortable defence of the appointment following an urgent question in the House of Commons.
The appointment had been criticised both because of claims that Mr Young’s academic credentials had been over-emphasised and because of a long history of apparently sexist and otherwise inappropriate remarks both in articles and on social media.
“I have decided to stand down from the Office for Students,” Mr Young wrote. “My appointment has become a distraction from its vital work of broadening access to higher education and defending academic freedom.”
Mr Young, a long-time friend of Boris Johnson, Jo Johnson’s older brother, had been chosen for the role because of his work as a key supporter of the free schools movement of schools outside local authority control.
His past comments had drawn criticism from the prime minister.
Mr Young insisted in the Spectator piece that the description of him since his appointment was announced earlier this month had been a “caricature”.