Published: 12:46, 15 September 2020
| Updated: 16:36, 15 September 2020
Former MP Charlie Elphicke has been jailed for two years after being found guilty of sexual assaults on two women.
Elphicke, 49, who has been succeeded as MP for Dover and Deal by wife Natalie, denied all three allegations made against him.
His trial started at Southwark Crown Court on Monday, July 6 and the jury retired on Tuesday, July 28 to start their deliberations.
After a day-and-a-half of deliberations Elphicke was found guilty of all three counts.
One charge related to an incident in 2007 where Elphicke chased a victim around his Westminster home while chanting "I'm a naughty Tory" in a singsong voice.
The woman, who was in her 30s at the time and known to Elphicke, contacted police about the incident in November 2017.
The second complainant, aged in her 20s, was groped on her breast by the former MP, who also ran his hand up her leg. The assaults happened during separate incidents in 2016.
During his trial, Elphicke said he was “in complete shock” after being told by a colleague of the complaints against him.
He said he was called to a meeting with Anne Milton, deputy chief whip at the time, after she had been informed of allegations against him in 2016.
Watch: KMTV's report on the verdict
Elphicke, 49, said the incidents did not happen. In a recording of police questioning from March 2018 played at the trial, he told officers: “I would have spent most of the interview in complete shock with allegations being made against me.
“I had no notice about any of the allegations and I had no legal representation.”
Jurors heard that Elphicke told police he was accompanied by former attorney general Dominic Grieve for a second meeting with Mrs Milton, in which Mr Grieve apparently “castigated” the whips for the way their investigation into Elphicke was conducted.
As the verdict was read out in July, Elphicke let out a sigh and glanced across at his counsel.
His wife, Natalie, later left the court on her own in a taxi. She made no comment but then announced she was leaving him.
Elphicke, of St Margaret’s Bay, Dover, has remained on bail ever since with the condition he stayed at the same address. He has not made any comment on the verdicts.
Det Sgt Michael McInerney of the Met’s Complex Case team, said: “These were alarming, distressing incidents for both women and I would like to acknowledge their courage in reporting the incidents and co-operating with the police investigation.
“Elphicke was persistent in his sexual advances and showed a lack of self-restraint and regard for the women, whose emotional wellbeing and professional lives were affected by what happened."
Elphicke, a father-of-two, was suspended as a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury - also known as a government whip - on November 3, 2017, after the allegations were made to police.
But, on December 12, 2018, the Conservative whip was reinstated before a confidence vote in Theresa May before, once again, being withdrawn in July when he was charged.
He did not stand in the December 2019 General Election but the seat was taken by his wife .
In front of a packed court room Mrs Justice Whipple jailed Elphicke for 14 months for count one - the offence where he chased the victim while singing "I'm a naughty Tory", slapped her bottom and groped her breast - 10 months for count two - where he kissed a victim and groped her breast - and 10 months to run concurrently for count three - where he ran his hand up the victim's leg and tried to kiss her.
The first victim said in her statement: "The effect of what he did to me has had a lasting impact... I have found that I have a significantly increased sense of anxiety and caution when meeting and working with any man. I feel like things I once enjoyed have been taken away from me.
"[It] was not easily recovered from. It took me a long time to get back on my feet and to be able to be stable in my home and job again."
The second woman said: "I remember feeling trapped, frightened and constantly on edge... I used to freeze every time that door would open or every time I was left alone with him. My mental health suffered because of the emotional and psychological turmoil that he put me through.
"When he did what he was found guilty for and abused his position of authority, I was incredibly vulnerable; left with feelings of complete powerlessness and inferiority. Because of his acts, he stole a large part of my self-worth and my self-esteem, and he crushed a part of my spirit.”
Det Sgt Michael McInerney of the Met’s Complex Case team, part of Central Specialist Crime, said: “Elphicke was persistent in his sexual advances and showed a lack of self-restraint and regard for the two women who he assaulted. Their emotional wellbeing and professional lives have been deeply affected by what happened.
“These were alarming, distressing incidents for both women and I would like to acknowledge their courage in reporting the incidents and co-operating with the police investigation.
“Victims of non-recent sexual offences should not be deterred from reporting what happened to them to police. Specially trained investigators will investigate the claims and seek prosecutions where possible, whilst providing all the necessary support for victims.”
His defence counsel, Ian Winter QC, this morning told the judge: "He has totally disgraced himself. He has lost an extremely successful career and his wife... His conduct has resulted in his 13-year-old son being bullied and the bullies telling him his dad is a rapist.
"He completely accepts what he has done and demonstrated remorse. He is a carer for his 13-year-old son. He did not reoffend for nine years. He took advantage of a situation and foolishly lost his head over a young woman."
In total 34 character witnesses made statements in support of Elphicke and his estranged wife wrote to say he had been "gentle" in the way he had responded and supported his son after he was bullied.
Elphicke's family home is on the market, from which he is due to get £200,000 but £100,000 of that will go to Natalie and he has legal fees and must repay £35,000 court costs over the next year.
Following the conclusion of the case a spokesman for Elphicke confirmed he would appeal against the sentence, adding he was: "Innocent of any criminal wrongdoing”.