Five Tory MPs breached code of conduct by trying to influence judge in Elphicke sex assault trial

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Charlie Elphicke Wife Natalie
Wife Natalie - who replaced him as MP for Dover and left him after the guilty verdict in July - came out in his defence, saying he didn't get a "fair trial."

Five Tory MPs breached the code of conduct by trying to influence a judge in the trial of former MP Charlie Elphicke, the Commons Standards Committee has ruled.

Theresa Villiers, Natalie Elphicke, Sir Roger Gale, Adam Holloway and Bob Stewart wrote letters regarding ex-MP Charlie Elphicke, who was convicted of sex offences.

A Commons watchdog has found the five Conservative MPs breached the code of conduct and attempted to “improperly” influence legal proceedings related to their disgraced former colleague Charlie Elphicke.

Charles Elphicke, the former Tory MP for Dover and sex offender, was convicted of three counts of sexual assault on two women in July last year and sentenced last September to two years in prison.

In July 2020, he was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against the two women and sentenced to two years in prison.

Sentencing him last year, the judge, Mrs Justice Whipple, described the 50-year-old as a “sexual predator” who used his “success and respectability as a cover”.

Elphicke showed no emotion as he was sentenced – and later sought to appeal against the sentence, which was denied in March.

The trial heard how he declared himself a “naughty Tory” as he chased his first victim around his central London family home in summer 2007, moments after groping her while they shared a bottle of wine.

He also groped a second woman, a parliamentary worker in her early 20s with whom he was “besotted”, twice in a month in 2016.

During his trial, the court heard Elphicke, a father of two and a qualified lawyer, lied to police, senior colleagues and his wife about what happened.

Following his conviction, Mrs Elphicke announced the end of her 25-year marriage on Twitter as she sat in a taxi leaving the court, saying the decision had brought “profound sorrow”.

Charlie Elphicke
Elphicke – who chanted ‘I’m a naughty Tory’ during one attack – was found guilty of groping the breasts of two younger women.

Use Commons notepaper meant to influnce.

The letters on Commons notepaper were addressed to senior judges.

Three of the MPs could be suspended from Parliament for one day.

Ms Villiers, Mrs Elphicke and Sir Roger face suspension, while Mr Holloway and Col Stewart have been told to apologise by the Commons Standards Committee.

All five wrote to senior members of the judiciary raising concerns that a more junior judge was considering publishing character references provided for Mr Elphicke.

The MPs had given glowing character references for Mr Elphicke in the hope of mitigating his sentence and became alarmed when newspapers wanted the judge involved in the case to release the names of everybody who had given character references for him.

So instead of publicly objecting the MPs decided to write on Commons notepaper to Dame Kathryn Thirwall, Senior Presiding Judge for England and Wales, and Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, copied to Mrs Justice Whipple. Mrs Justice Whipple had heard the trial of a former Member, Charlie Elphicke, and was to hear and decide on an application to release the pre-sentencing character references.

The MPs said to disclose the references would be a “radical change to judicial practice” which “could have the [sic] chilling effect and harm the criminal justice system”. 

They got a stiff reply from the Private Secretary to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales November to the letter stating that “It is improper to seek to influence the decision of a judge in a matter of which he or she is seized in this way. [ … ] It is all the more regrettable when representatives of the legislature, writing as such on House of Commons notepaper, seek to influence a judge in a private letter and do so without regard for the separation of powers or the independence of the judiciary”.

Their names- along with life peer Lord Freud- became public when Mrs Justice Whipple released them in a court ruling.

An attempt improperly to influence judicial proceedings.

The committee said the MPs’ letters amounted to “an attempt improperly to influence judicial proceedings”.

It said that “such egregious behaviour is corrosive to the rule of law and, if allowed to continue unchecked, could undermine public trust in the independence of judges.”

And it found the MPs’ behaviour had “caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity” of the House of Commons.

The committee said of the three MPs recommended for suspension, two had “substantial legal experience” while the third, Sir Roger, is both the longest standing of the group and “still does not accept his mistake”.

Their names- along with life peer Lord Freud- became public when Mrs Justice Whipple released them in a court ruling.

Labour’s shadow leader of the Commons, Thangam Debbonaire, said the incident showed the Conservatives “think it is one rule for them and another for everyone else”.

She said: “This behaviour is corrosive and does nothing but undermine trust in Parliament and it must not be allowed to continue.”


The reality is, it’s a blatant case of elitism, even when committing such heinous crimes these Tories believed they could influence a judge in the outcome of a case. I’m sure anyone else attempting to improperly influence judicial proceedings would warrant more than an apology…

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