The disgraced ex-Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been given a two-year prison sentence after he was convicted of three sexual assaults on two younger women.
The 49-year-old who declared himself a “naughty Tory” was found to have chased his first victim around his family home moments after groping her.
The former MP for Dover also groped a second woman – a parliamentary worker in her early twenties with whom he was “besotted” – twice in one month in 2016.
Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court, Ms Justice Whipple said: “You are a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover.”
The judge said of the two offences against the second victim: “This was a campaign of harassment, it required planning to get her alone with you.”
She added: “You made your victims come to 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.”
Elphicke showed no emotion as he was sentenced to two years in prison, effective immediately. He collected a small holdall before being taken from the dock into custody.
However, Elphicke confirmed through his spokesperson 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.”
His estranged wife and his successor as Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: “I fully support Charlie in his appeal … 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.”
Before the verdict, Elphicke’s lawyer Ian Winter QC had urged the judge not to jail his client and said the former MP was now the primary carer for his teenage son, who had received “sustained and quite vicious bullying” at school.
He told the judge: “A lesson has been fully and completely learned. When one steps back and looks at the man you are sentencing today, you do have somebody who is essentially a good man.”
Elphicke’s first offence took place at his London home in the summer of 2007 when he invited a woman in her early thirties to share a drink with him while his children were asleep and his wife was away with work.
The woman said Elphicke asked her about bondage and sex, then kissed her and groped her breast before chasing her around his home. Breaking down in court, she told jurors: “I was just shocked – really, really shocked. He was saying really bizarre things that are embarrassing, like ‘I’m a naughty Tory’. He was trying to grope me and trying to grab my bum.”
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.” The victim said: “He had his mouth open, continually trying to kiss me. It was like a disgusting, slobbery mess.”
The woman said she spurned Elphicke’s sexual advances, telling jurors she was physically repulsed by him. She said he assaulted her again at a later date when he ran his hand up her thigh towards her groin.
In a victim’s statement read out in Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, the parliamentary worker said she had been left “vulnerable” and “constantly scared” following the assaults.
The court heard Elphicke initially denied any knowledge of the allegations when he was summoned before Tory party whips in January 2017.
His wife, Natalie Elphicke, said she only learnt of his emotional attachment to the parliamentary worker when she pored over case files during lockdown.
Ms Elphicke announced the end of her 25-year marriage on Twitter as she sat in a taxi leaving court less than an hour after the guilty verdicts were returned in July.
It emerged in Tuesday’s hearing at Southwark Crown Court that Elphicke owes his estranged wife £100,000 after she helped pay his legal fees, since he was refused legal aid. The family home in Kent is being sold.
A statement from Ms Elphicke described how one of the “green shoots” of the circumstances was the former MP’s improved bond with his 13-year-old son, saying they enjoyed activities such as gardening, sailing, chess and Scrabble.
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 Theresa May.
The whip was withdrawn again the following summer when the Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to charge Elphicke.