Conservative MP and his aide, who is accused of rape, 'like father and son', court hears

Craig Mackinlay describes close relationship with chief of staff, said to have abused position to attack vulnerable woman in Parliament

Henry Vaughan
Thursday 14 December 2017 17:50 GMT
The former UKIP politician Craig Mackinlay (right) arrives at court with his wife Kati Mackinlay
The former UKIP politician Craig Mackinlay (right) arrives at court with his wife Kati Mackinlay (PA)

A Conservative MP whose chief of staff is accused of raping a woman in his office has told a court he and his aide were “like father and son”.

Samuel Armstrong, 24, is said to have abused his position to attack the young woman when she fell asleep after a night drinking in the Houses of Parliament.

The woman, in her twenties, said she felt “like a hostage”, as South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay’s employee raped her twice, telling her: “This is what you want.”

She was captured on CCTV running through the corridors of Parliament in tears in the early hours of 14 October last year.

Armstrong, from Danbury in Essex, denies two counts of rape, one of sexual assault and one of assault by penetration, claiming what happened took place with “full consent”.

Giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, Mr Mackinlay said he was not in Parliament on the night Armstrong is alleged to have carried out the attack in his office, on the ground floor of the Norman Shaw building.

Samuel Armstrong has denied the rape and sexual assault allegations made against him PA
Samuel Armstrong has denied the rape and sexual assault allegations made against him PA (Samuel Armstrong denies the allegations)

The MP said he was not sure whether Armstrong “hero-worshipped” him, but said they had a close relationship and would tease his young employee for working so hard that he was denying himself a social life.

“Given the age difference I became like – it was almost like father and son, I suppose,” he said.

He told jurors they would go for a beer together, or out for drinks and dinner with his wife Kati when they were working in his constituency office.

The court heard that Mr Mackinlay’s wife would tell Armstrong “she was going to find one of her nieces to marry, because he was too nice a young man to be single”.

Armstrong worked as a volunteer activist for the Conservative Party at university, before joining the MP’s staff after he was elected in May 2015 – beating UKIP’s Nigel Farage.

“He was recommended to me by various people within the party. I had known Sam through various work for the party, for probably a year before,” Mr Mackinlay told jurors.

“When his university course came to an end – he finished his degree – I formalised that with a full-time position.”

Mr Mackinlay said Armstrong was appointed as his chief of staff in April last year.

He described Armstrong’s role as “mixed and varied”, adding: “Sam was very dedicated at it.”

He agreed with Armstrong’s barrister, Sarah Forshaw QC, that her client was a hardworking, trustworthy employee who did not take a single day of holiday.

The trial continues.

PA

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in