Former Dover MP Charlie Elphicke 'may be a bad husband, but he is not a criminal', court told

  • london
  • July 24, 2020
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Former Conservative politician Charlie Elphicke might be guilty of being a bad husband and “foolish”, but it does not mean he sexually assaulted two women, a court has heard.

The 49-year-old father-of-two, who was MP for Dover from 2010 to 2019, denies three counts of sexual assault, on women in their early 30s and early 20s, almost a decade apart.

But he acknowledged he had cheated on his wife with another woman, and said he propositioned one of the complainants in this case, both during his marriage to Natalie Elphicke, his successor as Dover MP.

His defence counsel, Ian Winter QC, told jurors at Southwark Crown Court in the third week of Mr Elphicke’s trial that they may decide his client had behaved “foolishly”.

But he said that did not make him a criminal.

Mr Winter, in his closing speech on Friday, said: “You might think at the heart of this case lies a pretty ancient foolishness of husbands.

“If Mr Elphicke was on trial here for behaving foolishly you might find it easy to convict.

“If Mr Elphicke was on trial for cheating on his wife, treating her badly, you might find it easy to convict.”

He added: “You may despise that level of low morality – but you put that to one side.

“He is on trial for sexually assaulting two women, that is the allegation.”

Mr Elphicke denies groping the first complainant, a woman he invited to have a drink with him at his London home in 2007, while his wife was away for the first time since the birth of their young son.

The complainant described Mr Elphicke kissing her, grabbing her breast, and then chasing her around the house chanting, “I’m a naughty Tory”.

Mr Elphicke told the court he kissed the woman “under a misapprehension” after she became “tactile” towards him, but said while she initially responded “positively” she later said she did not want to kiss him so he stopped.

He denies sexually assaulting her and chasing her around his house.

The second complainant, a young parliamentary worker, said Mr Elphicke groped her breast following a drink in Westminster in April 2016.

The following month, Mr Elphicke was said to have been in the company of the woman again when he slid his hand up her thigh towards her groin.

Both women said they were not attracted to the former MP, who said he was not attracted to the woman in her 30s, but told jurors he “lost my head” over the parliamentary worker with whom he wanted a sexual relationship.

Jurors already heard Mr Elphicke told police he had an affair with another woman, not a complainant in this case, between 2015 and 2017.

None of the three women can be named for legal reasons.

In her closing speech on Thursday, prosecutor Eloise Marshall QC said: “Charlie Elphicke is an accomplished liar, and he assaulted these women in exactly the way they described.

“He is guilty of all three counts on this indictment, and you can be sure of that.”

The trial continues.