Former MP Charlie Elphicke jailed for sexual assault

15 September 2020, 12:45 | Updated: 15 September 2020, 13:01

Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke arriving at Southwark Crown Court in London
Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke arriving at Southwark Crown Court in London. Picture: PA

Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been jailed for two years for sexually assaulting two women.

The former politician was jailed at Southwark Crown Court on Monday.

But he confirmed through his spokesman upon sentencing that he is seeking to overturn the conviction.

A statement read: "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."

In her sentencing remarks, Mrs Justice Whipple told the disgraced former MP the first victim suffered a "terrifying episode" when he chased her around his home chanting "I'm a naughty Tory" after assaulting her.

The judge said of the two offences against the second victim, the Parliamentary worker: "This was a campaign of harassment, it required planning to get her alone with you."

The judge said to Elphicke: "Both women described similar and shocking allegations on them.

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

The judge said: "You made your victims come to court.

"They told the truth, and you told a pack of lies - not only to the jury, but your wife, the whips and the police."

Charlie Elphicke showed no emotion as he was sentenced to two years in prison for the three counts of sexual assault, effectively immediately.

He collected a small holdall before being taken from the dock into custody.

He was also ordered to pay £35,000 in costs.

The judge said she "considered carefully" whether the sentence should be suspended.

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

He was told he would likely serve up to half that term in prison before being released on licence.

Prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC cited a pre-sentence report in which she said it was unclear whether Charlie Elphicke took responsibility for his actions, with the former MP referring to the third count of sexual assault as "a pass".

Ms Marshall said: "The Crown's concern is that doesn't reflect the facts of this offence - it wasn't 'a pass', it was a sexual assault."

The judge, Mrs Justice Whipple, said the report appeared to "undercook" the seriousness of the offence.

She said of the report: "He indicated some sort of introspection and remorse, but was short of full acceptance."

Ms Marshall, reading a statement from the first victim, said the effect of what Elphicke did "had a lasting impact", and said she had a "significantly increased sense of caution" when coming into contact with men, including taxi drivers and butchers.

She said: "The logical part of my brain is telling me to be polite to them but the emotional side is making me stressed."

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."

The statement added: "It took me a long time to get back on my feet (following the assault)."

Concluding with her thoughts on the verdict, the woman - who cannot be named - said: "I feel heard. Thank you."

The second victim, a former Parliamentary worker in her 20s, said in her impact statement, sections of which were read before the court: "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."

The vicitm said Elphicke "affected her dreams", adding: "My inner scars will always be there."

Ian Winter QC, defending Charlie Elphicke, urged the judge not to jail his client and said he was now the primary carer for his teenage son.

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".

Mr Winter added of his client: "A lesson has been fully and completely learned."

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

He 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.

A statement from Charlie Elphicke's estranged wife, current Dover MP Natalie Elphicke, described how one of the "green shoots" of the circumstances was his improved bond with his 13-year-old son, saying they enjoyed activities such as gardening, baking, sailing, chess and Scrabble.

Defending, Ian Winter said how Mrs Elphicke praised her estranged husband's "careful and gentle way" of helping their son.

Mr Winter said of the son: "He's been cut off from people he thought were his friends... he has suffered in an academic way."

Mr Winter said the Elphickes' daughter, now 20, no longer spoke to her family.

He added: "She was heading to Oxbridge but she can't because her grades were so poor."

Ian Winter said his client had "no assets to his name", saying that the Kent family home was "on the market, though not selling and not viewing".

He said Charlie Elphicke had "a fair bit of debt", adding that his estranged wife loaned him £100,000 to pay for legal bills, but that he owes his lawyers "more than that".

Mr Winter said Elphicke applied for legal aid but was refused on means grounds.

He said Elphicke was currently unemployed.