Charlie Elphicke: Former Conservative MP jailed for two years for three sexual assaults

The 49-year-old declared himself a "naughty Tory" as he chased his first victim around his central London family home in summer 2007

Elphicke arriving at Southwark Crown Court
Elphicke arriving at Southwark Crown Court Credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA

Disgraced former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been jailed for two years after being convicted of three sexual assaults on two younger women.

The 49-year-old declared himself a "naughty Tory" as he chased his first victim around his central London family home in summer 2007, moments after groping her while they shared a bottle of wine.

He also groped a second woman, a parliamentary worker in her early 20s with whom he was "besotted", twice in a month while Dover MP in 2016.

Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court, Mrs Justice Whipple said the first victim suffered a "terrifying episode" when she was chased around his home, while the second victim endured a "campaign of harassment".

"You're a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover," she said.

"Bearing in mind the gross breach of your position of power, I am satisfied that appropriate punishment can only be achieved by immediate custody."

Elphicke was handed a two-year prison sentence. He is likely to serve up to a year before being released on licence. The former MP was also ordered to pay £35,000 in costs.

The former politician said he will seek to overturn the conviction, writing in a statement: "Two weeks ago, my legal team sought leave to appeal my conviction to the Court of Appeal.

"That application is made on a number of grounds which demonstrate that my trial was unfair and my conviction unsafe.

"I know that I am innocent of any criminal wrongdoing and will continue to fight to clear my name."

Elphicke and his wife at Southwark Crown Court Credit: Paul Grover/Paul Grover

Elphicke's wife and successor as Dover MP, Natalie Elphicke, said she thought the two-year prison term he was given was "excessive" and she "fully supports" him in appealing the conviction and sentence.

"The court seems to be on a bit of a mission - it entirely ignored the report of a highly experienced probation officer as well as sentencing guidelines," she said.

"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."

Elphicke, a father of two and qualified lawyer, lied to police, senior colleagues and his own wife about what happened, the court heard during his trial.

Mrs Elphicke only learned of his emotional attachment to the parliamentary worker when she pored over case files during lockdown.

She announced the end of her 25-year marriage on Twitter as she sat in a taxi leaving court less than an hour after the verdicts were returned.

Elphicke also kept an affair with a third woman between 2015 and 2017 secret from his wife until his arrest in 2018.

The victims

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 working - 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."

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC, reading a statement from the victim, said what Elphicke did "had a lasting impact" on the woman and she had a "significantly increased sense of caution" when coming into contact with men afterwards.

Ms Marshall said: "Even to the extent that when the (police) officers came to take an account from her, she found it difficult to be alone with them. She says she avoided being alone with men in general."

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The second victim, a former Parliamentary worker aged in her 20s, said Elphicke tried to kiss her then groped her when they met for a drink in Westminster in April 2016.

He then told her: "I'm so naughty sometimes."

The woman 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.

A statement read to the court said: "I still remember how he made me feel, I still know those feelings of fear and helplessness.

"I do believe as a result of what happened, it changed how I perceived myself. Because of his acts, he stole a large part of my self-worth and self-esteem. My inner scars will always be there."

Elphicke leaving court after being found guilty of three sexual assaults Credit: Jamie Lorriman /Jamie Lorriman 

Elphicke told jurors he was "besotted" with the second victim.

The court heard Elphicke initially denied any knowledge of the allegations against the woman 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 Mr 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.

'Descent into total disgrace'

Elphicke 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.

He 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 him.

At Elphicke's sentencing hearing, Ian Winter QC, defending, urged the judge not to jail him.

Mr Winter said the former MP is currently unemployed and has "a fair bit of debt" due to the legal bills. He has "no assets to his name" and the Kent family home is on the market, the judge heard.

He told the judge: "Shortly, Mr Elphicke's descent into total disgrace will be complete.

"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 the boy was taunted by people calling his father "a rapist", prompting him to "collapse academically", and he is "extremely psychologically vulnerable".

Elphicke and his wife arrive at court during his trial Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Mr Winter said the Elphickes' daughter, now 20, no longer spoke to her family. She had been "heading to Oxbridge" but now cannot go because her grades were so poor, he explained.

"A lesson has been fully and completely learned," said Mr Winter.

He said the pre-sentence report found that the risk of re-offending was "extremely low".

Mr Winter said: "I can assure you on his behalf that it will never happen again. When one steps back and looks at the man you are sentencing today, you do have somebody who is essentially a good man."

He said there were 34 character witnesses supporting Charlie Elphicke, including "serving Members of Parliament", but did not disclose their names.

Sentencing remarks

Mrs Justice Whipple said: "Both women described very similar and shocking assaults on them. Their victim impact statements demonstrate the lasting damage done to their confidence and trust in others by your offending. You are a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover.

"In each case you took advantage of your position as their employer and abused their trust in you to impose on them sexually. Trust is part and parcel of an employee’s relationship with their employer. A and B both trusted you. But you got them alone with you, lured them into a false sense of security with wine and work chat, and then attacked them without warning, trying to kiss them, grabbing their breasts, trapping them beneath you.

"Women are entitled to feel safe at work. These women were not safe. Then you treated what you did as a joke, saying of yourself that you were “naughty” in an attempt to trivialise your actions. You suggested to each woman that this was something they wanted, that they had encouraged, that they had enjoyed. That was not true. They had not encouraged you or led you on.

"Your behaviour was also an abuse of power. You picked on your employees, because you had influence over them and their careers, and because you knew they were unlikely to complain. In fact, neither of them did complain to start with. A was silent because she had lost her home and her job but needed you to provide a reference and money to tide her over; she also wanted the best for your family. B was silent because she wanted to carry on in her dream job and was worried that you would jeopardise her career if she offended you. (She was right; you did try to do that.) So, their disclosures only came later, in the face of other events, and after they had both stopped working for you.

"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."

You can read the judge's full sentencing remarks by clicking here.