Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke said it could not have been true that he sexually assaulted a young woman on the parliamentary estate because she would have complained “at the time”, a court has heard.
The married father-of-two said the allegations were “appalling and untrue” when he was summoned to give his side of the story to then-deputy chief whip Anne Milton following complaints that he sexually assaulted the woman in April and May 2016.
A tape recording of the exchange, played to jurors at Southwark Crown Court in London on Wednesday, heard that the complainant – a woman in her early 20s who cannot be identified for legal reasons – alleged that then-Dover MP Elphicke groped her breast, and then ran his hand up her leg in a second incident some time later.
According to the tape, Mrs Milton told Elphicke: “I have had some very serious allegations about your behaviour – sexual misconduct, harassment and inappropriate behaviour.”
Elphicke replied: “Really?”
He later added: “Absolutely no way. I need my lawyer.”
Elphicke denied allegations put to him by Mrs Milton that he tried to kiss the woman, hold her hand or touch her breast.
He said: “I think it’s appalling and untrue.
“I’m shocked by this.”
Mrs Milton – who told jurors that part of her role as deputy chief whip involved “a certain amount of pastoral care” – then asked Elphicke to “consider whether any of (his) behaviour was inappropriate”.
She said: “It would be good to feel you recognise some of the story.”
Elphicke replied: “That I sexually assaulted her?”
Mrs Milton added: “And tried to touch her leg? Tried to kiss her?”
Elphicke replied: “Six months ago?”
Mrs Milton said: “Well, Charlie, it doesn’t matter when it happened.”
Asked whether Elphicke felt the allegations were either “untrue, or a misunderstanding”, he replied: “They’re untrue.”
He added: “This was six months ago. If this was true, a complaint would have been made at the time.”
The court heard that Elphicke met Mrs Milton again some time later to go over the allegations, along with former attorney general Dominic Grieve.
Mrs Milton, herself an MP until 2019, said the complainant was “distressed and distraught” when she first got in contact to say that she had been the “victim of unwanted sexual attention”.
Elphicke is also accused of assaulting another complainant, a woman in her early 30s, at his home in London in 2007, when he was alleged to have groped her breast and chanted “I’m a naughty Tory” while chasing her.
Elphicke, MP for Dover from 2010 until 2019 when he stood down and was succeeded by his wife, Natalie Elphicke, denies three counts of sexual assault.
The trial continues.