Disgraced ex-MP Charlie Elphicke was dubbed a “sexual predator” as he was jailed for two years for attacks on two young women.
The former government whip, 49, dubbed himself a “naughty Tory” during a 2007 attack at his family home, groping the victim and chasing her until she had barricade herself into a room for safety.
A decade later Elphicke – now an elected MP – struck again, carrying out two sexual assaults on a junior Parliamentary staffer in a “campaign of harassment”.
Elphicke, a father-of-two and qualified lawyer, confessed to cheating on his wife with another woman during his trial but insisted he had not groped anyone. But a jury convicted him of three sex assault charges.
This morning, Mrs Justice Whipple said Elphicke was a “bully” who had used his power and position as an MP to target the victims.
“Both women describe very similar and shocking assaults on them,” she said. “You are a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover. In each case, you took advantage of your position.”
She said Elphicke’s offending was a “gross abuse of power” as he had “lured them into a false sense of security”.
“You then treated what you did as a joke, saying you were a ‘naughty Tory’ in an attempt to trivialise your actions,” the judge added.
Elphicke glanced briefly to the back of the court before being led away to the cells.
Within minutes of Elphicke’s conviction last month, his wife Natalie ended their 25-year marriage and left Southwark crown court without him. She had been by his side each day as he arrived and left the courthouse, but stayed away from the courtroom where details of his sexual misconduct were unfolding. She has now started divorce proceedings.
Mrs Elphicke had replaced her husband as the MP for Dover when he stood down in a doomed bid to clear his name.
The case also raised serious questions for the Conservative Party, as Elphicke had been handed back the whip while facing a criminal investigation in order to back former PM Theresa May in a confidence vote.
The first offence was committed at Elphicke’s family home while his wife was away and his children slept upstairs.
He pounced on the victim, a woman in her 30s, as they shared a bottle of wine, having first turned the conversation to leather and bondage.
“He tried to kiss me and I moved my head, he pushed me down by my shoulders, he had his knee between my legs and he was groping my breast,” she told the court. “I was just shocked – really, really shocked.”
The court heard how Elphicke – likened to TV comic Benny Hill – chased the woman around the kitchen while chanting “I’m a naughty Tory”, and eventually she barricaded herself in another room to end the pursuit.
In a victim impact statement, the woman said the attack left her anxious about being alone with men, telling the court: “I feel like things I once enjoyed have been taken away from me.”
She said seeing Elphicke’s face and hearing his voice “triggered” anxiety in her, adding: “I felt like a disposable convenience, to be used when he wanted.”
The second victim, in her early 20s, fell into Elphicke’s clutches in 2016 after he had been elected Parliament.
She told the court how she spurned the MP’s advances but he grabbed hold of her while moving in for a kiss and briefly tried to stop her from leaving the office.
He stroked her leg in a second incident a few weeks later, and the woman had to repeatedly decline his advances.
The woman said she was left feeling “trapped, frightened, and constantly on edge”, and the incident had damaged her self-esteem.
“He crushed a part of my spirit,” she said. “I was helpless, depressed, beaten, vulnerable, and constantly scared.”
Ian Winter QC, mitigating, told the court: “Shortly Mr Elphicke’s descent into total disgrace will be complete. He has, through his conduct, lost an extremely successful career as a barrister, he has destroyed what was a very successful Parliamentary career culminating in him being a government whip. He has lost his wife.”
Elphicke’s daughter is now estranged from him and his teenage son has been bullied at school, the court heard.
“It is difficult to get any lower,” added Mr Winter, urging the judge not to send him to prison.
In his defence at trial, Elphicke, a former Lambeth councillor and ex-chairman of the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association, claimed the first offence was nothing more than a “misunderstanding”, and said he had “lost my head” in a bid to woo the second victim.
He broke down in tears in the witness box as he admitted to cheating on his wife with a third woman.
The Parliamentary staffer complained to deputy chief whip Anne Milton about Elphicke’s behaviour, but instead of admitting what he had done the MP instead mounted an attack on the party hierarchy for the way the allegation had been handled.
The matter did not make its way to the police until after the first victim came forward in 2017, when she saw Elphicke’s name on a notorious leaked list of politicians accused of sexual misconduct.
The court heard Elphicke’s estranged wife submitted a statement to the court today, detailing the impact on their family, and at least one serving MP also wrote a statement handed to the court today by the defence lawyers.
Elphicke, of Dover, Kent, denied three counts of sexual assault and was convicted by the jury. He will be subject to sexual offender notification requirements for the next ten years.
Charlie Elphicke 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.”