Kent

Charlie Elphicke trial: Ex-MP guilty of sexual assaults

Charlie Elphicke Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Charlie Elphicke's wife Natalie, the MP for Dover, said their marriage was over

A former Conservative MP has been found guilty of sexually assaulting two women.

Charlie Elphicke, 49, the former MP for Dover, denied groping the women in similar situations nine years apart.

He was convicted of one count of sexual assault in 2007, and two further counts against a second woman in 2016.

His wife Natalie Elphicke, the current Dover MP, said her husband's actions have ended their marriage. He will be sentenced in September.

Mrs Elphicke, who was present at the trial at Southwark Crown Court, said the verdict "brings profound sorrow" and "ends my 25 year marriage to the only man I have ever loved".

She tweeted: "I would ask for some personal space and time to come to terms with the shocking events of the last 3 years."

Releasing Elphicke on bail ahead on sentencing on 15 September, Judge Mrs Justice Whipple said: "There is a very real possibility he faces immediate custody."

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Media captionNatalie Dawson, from the CPS, said Elphicke "used his position of power and authority over his victim"

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Elphicke had "abused his power and influence over these women to make unwanted and forceful sexual advances towards them".

Elphicke's trial heard he had lunged at a woman, aged in her 30s, at his London home in 2007 on the first night his wife was away after the birth of their son.

He forced his victim on to a sofa and groped her breast while trying to kiss her, before chasing her and chanting "I'm a naughty Tory".

"He tried to kiss me and I moved my head, he pushed me down by my shoulders," the woman told jurors.

"He had his knee between my legs and he was groping my breast."

Elphicke told the court he tried to kiss the woman "under a misapprehension" after she became "tactile", but denied sexual assault.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Elphicke, pictured with Boris Johnson on 11 July 2019, was suspended by the Conservatives after being charged later that month

In 2016 he twice sexually assaulted a parliamentary worker aged in her 20s, first attempting to kiss the woman and grope her breast.

"He had his mouth open, continually trying to kiss me," his victim told the court. "It was like a disgusting, slobbery mess."

In the second assault several weeks later, he ran his hand up the inside of her thigh towards her groin.

Elphicke had told the jury he was "besotted" with the younger woman and desired a sexual relationship with her.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Natalie Elphicke left Southwark Crown Court alone after the verdict

He was suspended by the Conservatives when "serious allegations" were passed to police in November 2017, but the whip was restored ahead of a confidence vote against then-Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018.

He was again suspended after being charged with three counts of sexual assault on 22 July 2019. Mrs Elphicke succeeded her husband as the MP for Dover in December that year.

Natalie Dawson, of the CPS, said Elphicke had "lied repeatedly" and "failed to take responsibility for his behaviour and the harm suffered by his victims".

The attacks had a "profound impact" on the women, who "feared for their careers if they reported him," she said.

"I hope these convictions today give other victims the confidence to report sexual abuse, no matter how powerful their abuser," Ms Dawson added.

Det Sgt Michael McInerney, of the Met Police, said the assaults were "alarming, distressing incidents" for both women and he praised their "courage in reporting the incidents and co-operating with the police investigation".

In a statement, the Conservatives said: "Sexual assault is completely unacceptable, and we extend our sympathies to the victims.

"We have introduced a Code of Conduct where people can report complaints in confidence. If a serious allegation is raised, we would immediately advise the individual to contact the police."

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