Ex-MP Charlie Elphicke loses appeal against jail term after sexual assault conviction

Disgraced former MP Charlie Elphicke has lost his challenge against his sentence after Court of Appeal judges agreed that he is a sexual predator.

The 49-year-old, who called himself a “naughty Tory” as he chased one of his victims around a room, was jailed for two years following a trial.

At a hearing in London on Wednesday before the Lady Justice Carr and two other judges, his lawyers argued the sentence could have been suspended and that the trial judge had overstated the seriousness of the offences.

But Lady Justice Carr rejected the request for permission to appeal, finding the judge was correct to brand him a predator who was “prepared to exploit women for sexual purposes”.

She said: “The judge was fully entitled to reach the view that he was such a person.”

Justice Carr added that Elphicke “preyed on those in weaker positions than himself”.

The judge said: “He used his power to create conditions where he believed he could act on his sexual desires without fear of consequence.”

Earlier the court had heard how Elphicke’s ex-wife Natalie, who dumped him on Twitter when the verdicts were returned last July, had backed his challenge.

Elphicke’s barrister, Rachna Gakani told the court: “The impact on his son of the immediate custodial sentence is set out in the letter to the court from Mrs Elphicke.”

Elphicke, who has contracted coronavirus while in prison, had claimed his two victims were lying when they gave tearful accounts of their ordeals at his hands.

But a jury at Southwark crown court dismissed the former lawyer’s suggestions and he was found guilty last July.

Sentencing him last year, Mrs Justice Whipple said: “You’re a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover.”

She said “the gross breach of your position of power” meant a sentence of immediate custody was required.

It emerged his 20-year-old daughter Charlotte had become estranged from him while his wife, his successor as Dover MP, ended their 25-year marriage upon his conviction.

In a statement, Elphicke said he would appeal against the conviction, adding he was “innocent of any criminal wrongdoing”.

Mrs Elphicke also offered her support to her estranged husband, adding: “There is no doubt that Charlie behaved badly.

“However, everyone, Charlie included, has the right to a fair trial, and I don’t believe that he has had one.”

Jurors at his trial heard the first offence took place when Elphicke invited a woman in her early 30s to share a drink with him while his children were asleep and his wife was away with work in the summer of 2007 – the first time she had been absent since the birth of their son.

The woman said Elphicke asked her about bondage and sex, then kissed her and groped her breast before chasing her around his home.

The second complainant said Elphicke also tried to kiss her and then groped her when they met for a drink in Westminster in April 2016.

He then told her: “I’m so naughty sometimes.”

She said she spurned Elphicke’s sexual advances, telling jurors she was physically repulsed by him and that he told her he had “not been happy for years” in his marriage.

She said he sexually assaulted her again the following month when he ran his hand up her thigh towards her groin.

Elphicke said he kissed the first victim because he initially felt it was something they both wanted.

He told jurors he was “besotted” with the second complainant but denied sexually assaulting either of them.

The court heard Elphicke initially denied any knowledge of the allegations by a parliamentary worker when he was summoned before Tory party whips in January 2017.

He became a government whip under David Cameron’s premiership in 2015 but returned to the back benches when Theresa May came to power the following year.

Elphicke had the party whip suspended in 2017 when allegations of sexual assault first emerged but it was controversially reinstated a year later for a crucial confidence vote in then-prime minister Mrs May.

The whip was withdrawn again the following summer when the Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to charge Elphicke.