Kent

Charlie Elphicke: 'Unhappily married' ex-MP told woman 'not to blab'

Charlie Elphicke Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Charlie Elphicke is charged with three counts of sexual assault

Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke "lectured" a young parliamentary worker "not to blab" after he sexually assaulted her, a court has heard.

The 49-year-old is also said to have told her he "had not been happy for years" in his marriage, moments after groping the woman in Westminster.

The alleged victim told a jury at Southwark Crown Court she found Mr Elphicke "physically repulsive".

Mr Elphicke denies three counts of sexual assault against two women.

Asked by prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC if she thought Mr Elphicke believed she was, in fact, "up for it", despite telling him she was not interested in a sexual relationship, the woman wept as she replied: "I think he thought that if he kept going that I would one day cave. But I wouldn't."

'Don't say anything'

She recalled how she and the former Dover MP were chatting over a drink in Westminster before he allegedly put his arm around her and told her he liked her.

He then put his hand down her top and groped her breast, she said.

The jury heard excerpts from notes the woman made after the incident, in spring 2016.

She wrote: "I said: 'This was not OK'.

"He said: 'Why not?'.

"I said: 'You're married.'.

"He said he hadn't been happy for years."

The woman, who was then aged in her early-20s, then mentioned Mr Elphicke's children, aged nine and 15 at the time, to which he was said to have replied that "it wasn't that easy to separate".

The court heard how Mr Elphicke later contacted the woman.

She said: "He gave me a lecture about how I mustn't blab: don't say anything to anyone."

'Just kept apologising'

Mr Elphicke is alleged to have sexually assaulted the same woman later in 2016 when he ran his hand up her leg.

Asked by Ms Marshall if she found him attractive, the woman replied: "Absolutely not."

She said she had wanted to tell him: "You physically repulse me."

"That's what I wanted to say," the woman told the court.

"I was trying to deal with it by saying: 'I don't like you like that'."

The court heard the witness agreed to meet Mr Elphicke in summer 2016, shortly after he became a backbencher when he was removed from government, in which she challenged him about his behaviour.

She said in a message to a friend: "He just kept apologising.

"The massive demotion has really hit him hard and I think it humbled him massively."

Ian Winter QC, defending Mr Elphicke, read sections of text messages between his client and the woman in the lead-up to the first alleged incident, which he described as "frisky" and "flirty".

She denied the suggestion.

He also accused the woman of errors in her recollections to police.

Mr Elphicke denies three counts of sexual assault, two involving the parliamentary worker, and one involving another woman in 2007 at his home in central London.

The trial continues.

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