Disgraced former Tory MP Charlie Elphicke has said he is unemployed and making a Universal Credit claim as he was called to court over his failure to pay £35,000 following his sentence for sexually assaulting two women.
The ex-Dover MP, 50, was released half-way through his sentence earlier this year, having being jailed for two years in September 2020 after being found guilty of three counts of sexual assault following a month-long trial.
The sentencing judge, Mrs Justice Whipple, also ordered Elphicke to pay £35,000 within a year towards the costs of the prosecution, which would “otherwise fall on the public purse”.
“You have substantial equity in your family home, which is currently up for sale,” she told him.
Elphicke’s barrister Ian Winter QC had told the court his client had “a fair bit of debt”, and that his estranged wife, Natalie Elphicke, now the MP for Dover, loaned him £100,000 to pay for legal bills.
The former Government whip, who is on licence until next year, was summonsed to attend Uxbridge Magistrates’ Crown Court on Friday for the non-payment of £35,000.
“I find myself in a very difficult and embarrassed position,” he told magistrates, who he urged to “give me time to the end of my sentence to get myself back on my feet”.
The court heard Elphicke received £51,000 from the sale of his marital home, but most of the money has been used “in legal fees and to pay rent”.
He said he had paid six months’ rent up front for a one-bedroom flat, valued online at nearly £475,000, in Fulham, south-west London, adding: “That is why I have very limited cash to meet my living expenses.”
“I have made a claim for Universal Credit that is currently being processed,” Elphicke said.
“They are going to come back to me on December 12 to make sure I can pay the rent in an ongoing way.”
He told the court he had worked with the Step Change debt charity to assess his financial situation but the £1-a-month repayment proposal was not accepted by the court.
“I have no job, I have no career, I am long-term unemployed,” said Elphicke.
“I am working with the job centre and my probation officer to find a new career.
“I have made a claim for Universal Credit.
“I am separated from my wife who has filed for divorce. I have had to find a new place to live.”
Magistrates agreed to adjourn the case to December 17, while Elphicke is waiting for his benefits claim to be assessed, with a payment order expected to be made at the next hearing.
Chair of the bench Andrew Gell said: “It does not seem clear as what will be possible over the next 12 months so I think we wait until Universal Credit has been done, adjourning the matter until that has been completed and look at the matter again.”
In March, Elphicke lost a Court of Appeal challenge against his jail term after his lawyers argued the sentence was too long and should have been suspended.
The sentencing judge described Elphicke as a “sexual predator” who used his “success and respectability as a cover” and told a “pack of lies”.
During his trial, jurors heard how he had asked one of his victims about bondage and sex, then kissed her and groped her breast before chasing her around his home, chanting: “I’m a naughty Tory.”
In the wake of the case, the Commons Standards Committee found five Conservatives, including his wife Natalie, had breached the code of conduct over an “egregious” attempt to influence his legal proceedings.
As a result Mrs Elphicke, Sir Roger Gale and Theresa Villiers were suspended from the House of Commons for a day.
They, along with Bob Stewart and Adam Holloway, had written to senior members of the judiciary raising concerns that a more junior judge was considering publishing character references provided for Mr Elphicke.
Elphicke became a Government whip during David Cameron’s premiership in 2015 but returned to the backbenches when Theresa May came to power the following year.
He had the party whip suspended in 2017 when allegations of sexual assault first emerged but it was controversially reinstated a year later for a crucial confidence vote in then-prime minister Mrs May.
The whip was withdrawn again the following summer when the Crown Prosecution Service announced its decision to charge Elphicke.