Ex-Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been jailed for two years for sexually assaulting two women.
Elphicke, 49, the former MP for Dover, was convicted of groping the women in similar situations, nine years apart.
but was found guilty of one count of sexual assault in 2007 and two further counts in 2016, after a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
The judge told Elphicke he was a “sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover”.
Within minutes of his jailing, Elphicke confirmed he would appeal against his conviction, arguing he had not had a “fair trial”.
‘Pack of lies’
Mrs Justice Whipple said Elphicke’s denials had left his victims faced with the ordeal of giving evidence in court.
“They told the truth, and you told a pack of lies – not only to the jury, but your wife, the whips and the police,” she told him during the sentencing hearing.
Despite the fact the defendant’s wife Natalie – the current Dover MP – ended their marriage when he was convicted in July, she agreed he had not had a fair trial and confirmed she would support his appeal.
Before Elphicke was sentenced, the court heard victim impact statements from both of the women he attacked.
His first victim, who was attacked at the then MP’s London home in 2007, said his actions had had a “lasting impact” on her life, leaving her cautious of being around men.
He had forced the woman on to a sofa and groped her breast while trying to kiss her, before chasing her and chanting “I’m a naughty Tory”, his trial had heard.
‘Stole my self-worth’
The second victim, a parliamentary worker aged in her 20s, said the assaults in 2016 left her with a feeling of “fear and helplessness”.
“He stole a large part of my self-worth and self-esteem,” she said in a statement read to the court.
Elphicke sexually assaulted her twice, the first involving him attempting to kiss her and groping her breast.
In the second assault several weeks later, he ran his hand up the inside of her thigh towards her groin.
Ian Winter QC, defending, had argued Elphicke should not be jailed because he had “fully and completely” learned his lesson.
“Shortly, Mr Elphicke’s descent into total disgrace will be complete,” Mr Winter said.
As well as his marriage ending he is estranged from his daughter as a result of the conviction, he added.
“The only further degradation would be to lose his liberty,” Mr Winter said.
Elphicke had come to court with 34 character witnesses, including from some “serving members of parliament,” Mr Winter added. The names of the MPs were not disclosed in court.
‘Innocent of criminal wrongdoing’
Mrs Justice Whipple said she “considered carefully” whether the sentence should be suspended.
“[But] bearing in mind the gross breach of your position of power… I am satisfied that appropriate punishment can only be achieved by immediate custody,” she said.
However, a spokesman for Elphicke said his lawyers had begun an attempt to overturn the conviction.
“I know that I am innocent of any criminal wrongdoing and will continue to fight to clear my name,” Elphicke said in a statement.
Mrs Elphicke confirmed she supported an appeal against conviction and “today’s excessive sentence,” adding that “the court seems to be on a bit of a mission”.
There was “no doubt that Charlie behaved badly,” but he had been denied a fair trial, she said.
He was again suspended after being charged with the three counts of sexual assault on 22 July 2019.