Watch: Former Tory MP Charlie Elphicke arrives at Southwark Crown Court for his sentencing
Former Tory MP and “sexual predator” Charlie Elphicke has been jailed for two years for sexually assaulting two women, about a decade apart.
The disgraced 49-year-old father-of-two showed no emotion as judge Mrs Justice Whipple sentenced him to an immediate prison term for three counts of sexual assault, following a month-long trial which heard trained lawyer Elphicke lied to police, senior Tories, and his wife.
It has since emerged that his 20-year-old daughter, Charlotte, had become estranged from him, while his wife, Natalie Elphicke, announced on social media that she had ended their 25-year marriage less than an hour after his conviction at Southwark Crown Court in July.
Sentencing him on Tuesday, the judge said: “You’re a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover.”
One of Elphicke’s victims, in a statement read to court, 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.”
In a statement, Elphicke said he would appeal against the conviction, adding he was “innocent of any criminal wrongdoing”.
Prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC previously told the court that Elphicke was “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.
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, who also cannot be named, 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 then told the court that 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.
The court heard Elphicke initially denied any knowledge of the allegations against the parliamentary worker when he was summoned before Tory party whips in January 2017.
He later called on his “friend”, the former attorney general Dominic Grieve, to accompany him to a second meeting, although he failed to mention to Grieve that he had strong feelings for the woman.
Elphicke also admitted lying to police about the same issue, banking on him not being prosecuted and therefore being able to keep it from his wife.
The former Dover MP 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 Mrs 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 Tory former minister on suspicion of rape. He was released on bail until November.
Today’s verdict is one that brings profound sorrow. It ends my 25 year marriage to the only man I have ever loved.— Natalie Elphicke MP (@NatalieElphicke) July 30, 2020
I would ask for some personal space and time to come to terms with the shocking events of the last 3 years.
I will not be commenting further.
Ian Winter QC, defending, had urged the judge to spare Elphicke jail because he is the primary carer for his teenage son. He said the pre-sentence report found his risk of reoffending to be low.
“Shortly, Mr Elphicke’s descent into total disgrace will be complete,” he said.
“He has lost his wife, his daughter of 20 years is estranged from him as a direct result of his conviction, and his son, aged 13, has received sustained and quite vicious bullying at his school.”
He said 34 character witnesses had supported Elphicke including serving MPs but he did not reveal their names.
Elphicke was succeeded as MP for Dover & Deal by his wife.