Elphicke accused of lobbying over husband’s sexual assault case

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Earlier this week, Natalie Elphicke defected from the Conservatives to Labour
By Nick Eardley
Political correspondent

Natalie Elphicke, the new Labour MP for Dover, has been accused of lobbying ministers over her husband Charlie’s sexual assault case.

Sir Robert Buckland, the then Justice Secretary, said Ms Elphicke asked him to help move the date of the case, apparently to avoid publicity.

A spokesman for Ms Elphicke, who defected from the Conservatives last week, said the claims were “nonsense”.

Labour questioned why they were not raised earlier.

Sir Robert told the Sunday Times: “She was told in no uncertain terms that it would have been completely inappropriate to speak to the judge about the trial at all.”

The BBC has confirmed Sir Robert’s account with him.

The trial of Charlie Elphicke was due to be one of the first cases after Covid restrictions were lifted in courts. He was later jailed at Southwark Crown Court for two years for sexually assaulting two women.

Ms Elphicke and four other Conservative MPs were also found to have breached parliament’s code of conduct by attempting to influence legal proceedings.

They had written to senior members of the judiciary raising concerns that a more junior judge was considering publishing character references provided for Ms Elphicke’s husband.

At the time, 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”.

Ms Elphicke surprised Westminster last week when she defected from the Conservatives to Labour.

She had been seen as being on the right of the Conservative Party – and her being welcomed into Labour has been criticised by some.

She apologised on Thursday after an historic interview re-emerged, in which she said her ex-husband was “an easy target” for false allegations because he was “attractive”.

Responding to the latest allegations, a spokesman for Natalie Elphicke said: “This is nonsense. It’s certainly true that Mr Elphicke continued to be supported after his imprisonment by a large number of Conservative MPs who had known him for a long time, including some who visited him and independently lobbied on his behalf, which was nothing to do with Natalie.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Natalie Elphicke totally rejects that characterisation of the meeting.

“If Robert Buckland had any genuine concerns about the meeting, then he should have raised them at the time, rather than making claims to the newspapers now Natalie has chosen to join the Labour Party.”

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