Former MP jailed for two years for sexual assaults

Charlie Elphicke plans to appeal conviction for groping and harassing two women

Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke arriving at Southwark Crown Court in London to be sentenced for three counts of sexual assault. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke arriving at Southwark Crown Court in London to be sentenced for three counts of sexual assault. Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

 

A former British MP has been described by a judge as a “sexual predator” who “told a pack of lies” as he was jailed for two years for sexually assaulting two women, nearly a decade apart.

Charlie Elphicke (49) showed no emotion as judge Ms Justice Philippa Whipple sentenced him to an immediate prison term for three counts of sexual assault, following a month-long trial which heard Elphicke lied to police, senior Tories, and his wife.

Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, the judge said: “You’re a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover.

“You required both women to come to court and give evidence about the assaults you had made on them. That was not easy for them and they displayed great courage.

“They told the truth, you told a pack of lies – not just to the jury but, as became clear, to your wife, the whips and the police as well.”

She said “the gross breach of your position of power” meant an immediate custody sentence was required.

He was also ordered to pay £35,000 in costs, although his lawyer said he had “a fair bit of debt”, and that his estranged wife Natalie Elphicke loaned him £100,000 to pay for legal bills.

It has since emerged that his 20-year-old daughter, Charlotte, had become estranged from him, while his wife, his successor as Dover MP, ended their 25-year marriage upon his conviction.

In a statement, Elphicke said he would appeal against the conviction, adding he was “innocent of any criminal wrongdoing”.

Ms Elphicke also offered her support: “There is no doubt that Charlie behaved badly.

“However, everyone, Charlie included, has the right to a fair trial, and I don’t believe that he has had one.”

In a statement read to court, one of Elphicke’s victims described the psychological harm she suffered, adding: “I still remember how he made me feel, I still know those feelings of fear and helplessness.”

The other said she routinely could not trust men, but took comfort in the conviction, saying: “I feel heard. Thank you.”

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC previously described Elphicke as “an accomplished liar”, and said witness testimonies from the complainants were “almost identical” to each other, despite being from two women who did not know each other.

‘I’m a naughty Tory’

The court heard how the first offence took place when Elphicke invited a woman in her early 30s to share a drink with him while his children were asleep and his wife was away with work in the summer of 2007 – the first time she had been absent since the birth of their son.

The woman said Elphicke asked her about bondage and sex, then kissed her and groped her breast before chasing her around his home.

Breaking down in court, she told jurors: “I was just shocked – really, really shocked.

“He was saying really bizarre things that are embarrassing, like: ‘I’m a naughty Tory.’

“He was trying to grope me and trying to grab my bum.”

The second complainant said Elphicke also tried to kiss her and then groped her when they met for a drink in Westminster in April 2016.

He then told her: “I’m so naughty sometimes.”

The victim said: “He had his mouth open, continually trying to kiss me.

“It was like a disgusting, slobbery mess.”

She said she spurned Elphicke’s sexual advances, telling jurors she was physically repulsed by him, and that Elphicke told her he had “not been happy for years” in his marriage.

She said he assaulted her again the following month when he ran his hand up her thigh towards her groin.

Elphicke said he kissed the first victim because he initially felt it was something they both wanted.

He told jurors he was “besotted” with the second complainant, but denied assaulting either of them.

He became a government whip under David Cameron’s premiership in 2015, but returned to the back benches when Theresa May came to power the following year.

Elphicke had the party whip suspended in 2017 when allegations of sexual assault first emerged, but it was controversially reinstated a year later for a crucial confidence vote in then-prime minister Ms May.

The whip was withdrawn again the following summer when the Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to charge Elphicke.

Last month, police arrested an unnamed Conservative former minister on suspicion of rape. He was released on bail until November. – PA