Hedge fund boss Crispin Odey 'lunged' at young female banker during 'unwanted sexual invitation'

Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court, London, with his wife Nichola Pease, where he was accused of assaulting a young investment banker in the late 1990s.
Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey denies indecently assaulting a woman in the 1990s. (PA)

A married multimillionaire hedge fund manager has denied lunging at a younger investment banker, touching her breast and putting his hand up her skirt after a work meeting.

Crispin Odey, 62, has said he did proposition the woman, who was in her 20s at the time, in an "ill-judged and unwanted sexual invitation".

Prosecutors say the alleged victim was left "shocked and scared" as he touched her breast and had to wrestle away from him, while the woman accused him of treating her as "just a pretty thing he wanted".

However, Hendon Magistrates' Court was told on Wednesday that he denies indecent assault in the 1998 encounter.

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The court heard Odey, who was 39 at the time, invited the woman to his home in Chelsea, West London, after a meeting on the evening of 13 July.

It was common for junior employees of her investment bank to accompany senior members when meeting with clients and she accepted the invitation on the assumption that Odey's wife Nichola Pease would be there, the court was told.

Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court, London, with his wife Nichola Pease, where he was accused of assaulting a young investment banker in the late 1990s.
Crispin Odey with his wife Nichola Pease. (PA)

She had met with Odey, the founder of Odey Asset Management, who "showed an interest in her", and she hoped it would "further her career".

Prosecutor Kerry Broome said Odey ordered a takeaway and changed into a robe after showering.

In a video interview with police, the woman said: "That’s when I thought ‘Oh s***’. I didn’t really think he would do anything.

“I thought ‘This is definitely weird but he’s a weird guy, an eccentric person.’ I was definitely on alert. He sat down… and that’s when he was on top, all over me.”

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Broome told the court the woman remembered sitting in a booth and was "blocked in", and Odey "lunged" at her.

“He put his hand on her breast down her shirt, put his other hand on her back, then he put his other hand up her skirt," Broome said.

The woman, who now lives in the US, told police he went from “zero to 100” and didn't say anything.

“It was just a full groping, all over me, putting his hands on… under my shirt and on my back," she told officers.

Broome added that the woman, who was "shocked and scared... wrestled herself free and left".

The woman said she went to a friend's house and told him what happened, then told senior colleagues the next day – but they warned her she would be fired.

“He just saw me as a thing, not a person, just a pretty thing that he wanted," she said.

“It’s the whole objectification. You have got all of this money, this power, so you can do what you want.

“It’s not like you’re a person, just a doll or something, it’s just so bizarre."

The court heard Odey accepts he propositioned the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but denies the assault happened.

“There is therefore a single issue to be resolved – did Crispin Odey physically assault (the complainant) as she alleged or is it simply an ill-judged and unwanted sexual invitation which was verbal and nothing more?” Broome said.

The woman did not report the incident to the bank at the time, but sent an email to Odey in 2013 and told police in October 2017.

When Odey was interviewed in 2019, he said they had spoken about work at his house and that she asked him: "Where is this going to end?"

Hendon Magistrates' Court in London, where 5 climate change protesters are due to appear following the recent Extinction Rebellion protests in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday September 17, 2019. See PA story COURTS ExtinctionRebellion. Photo credit should read: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Odey appeared at Hendon Magistrates' Court. (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

The court heard that Odey, who is worth about £800m according to the Sunday Times Rich List and attracted controversy from his investment strategies, replied: "This is going to end up in bed, hopefully."

He said the woman was appalled and left, but that there was no assault and "for whatever reason, she is exaggerating", the court heard.

“He said it was stupid of him to make the offer, but stupid of her to go to his house," Broome said.

The woman is a "successful professional with her own family and no obvious motivation… to exaggerate or pursue this claim", the prosecutor added.

Odey – whose first name is Robin but who uses his middle name Crispin – is a vocal Brexit supporter and was briefly married to Rupert Murdoch's eldest daughter Prudence in the 1980s.

He was supported by Pease, whom he married in 1991.

He stepped down as his company's chief executive in November, saying he wanted to focus on managing his own funds.

The trial continues.

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