The former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has been sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against two women.
Elphicke, who represented the Kent constituency of Dover from 2010 until last year, was convicted in July of the charges, two in relation to a parliamentary worker in 2016 and one in relation to a woman at his family’s central London home in 2007.
“You are a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as cover,” he was told by Mrs Justice Whipple as she passed sentence at Southwark crown court.
His first victim had suffered a “terrifying episode” when he chased her around his home chanting “I’m a naughty Tory” after assaulting her, said the judge, who added that she considered whether or not to impose a custodial sentence but had come to the conclusion that it was the only appropriate punishment.
Of the two offences against the second victim, who was a young parliamentary worker at the time, she said: “This was a campaign of harassment, it required planning to get her alone with you.”
Elphicke lost the Tory whip in 2017 when the allegations were referred to the police, but was reinstated in December 2018 before a vote of confidence in the then prime minister, Theresa May.
Giving evidence at his trial during the summer, he admitted not telling police the truth when asked him about one of the women he was accused of sexually assaulting, saying he feared it would destroy his marriage.
A statement issued on Elphicke’s behalf shortly after sentencing said he was seeking to overturn the conviction and that his legal team had sought leave to appeal two weeks ago.
In victim impact statements read out in court on Tuesday, one of the women he assaulted spoke of how he had crushed a part of her spirit.
The ex-parliamentary worker spoke of a “flood of pain” entering her thoughts when she recalled what Elphicke did to her.
“Helpless, depressed beaten, vulnerable and constantly scared. This is my attempt to articulate the lasting impact he has had on me,” said the young woman, who gave evidence in court.
The other woman said in her statement that as a result of her ordeal she suffered significantly increased anxiety when meeting any man, whether it be her local butcher, a taxi driver or any other.
“I feel like things I once enjoyed have been taken away from me,” she said, giving the example of her previous love of dancing.
Eloise Marshall QC, prosecuting, addressed the court on a number of aggravating factors, which cannot be reported in full in case they lead to the identification of the women who were assaulted.
Marshall said that in one of the assaults skin-to-skin contact had definitely taken place, while in the other there was an attempt by the then MP to “get under the clothes” of the woman.
Elphicke’s wife, Natalie, who ran for office and became the Conservative MP for Dover after her husband did not stand in 2019, had accompanied him to the trial on some days but announced their marriage was ending after the verdict was returned.
But in a statement issued after the sentencing, she said that she fully supported his appeal against his convictions and what she described as the “excessive sentence”.
She also provided a number of letters to the court that were referred to during the sentencing hearing, in which she spoke about the impact of events on the family.
The Guardian reported in August that a cabinet minister had lobbied the prime minister to help Elphicke after he was charged with sexual assault. Elphicke is understood to have asked cabinet ministers to help him after the allegations were referred to the police in 2017.
A number of parliamentarians, who were not named in court, had provided words of support in Elphicke’s good character, the court was told.
Elphicke, in a grey suit and open neck shirt, remained impassive throughout, speaking only at the outset of proceedings to say “yes” when asked to confirm his identity. He showed little emotion, shaking his head at one point when the judge asked his legal team if he was entitled to legal aid.
The Women’s Equality party, which stood candidates in Elphicke’s constituency and against other MPs facing allegations of sexual harassment and assault at the time, described his jailing as a victory for survivors everywhere.
The party’s leader, Mandu Reid, said: “The fact that these women have managed against the odds to secure a conviction and prison sentence is a huge victory for survivors everywhere, but this case also shines a light on the enormous obstacles women face when holding powerful men to account.”
The sentence was broken down in the form of 14 months in prison on count one, 10 months in prison on a second count and to run consecutively, well as 10 months in prison for the third count to run concurrently.