Former special advisor to Sir Michael Fallon groped woman under her skirt at Christmas party, court hears

A former special advisor to Sir Michael Fallon groped a woman under her skirt after commenting on her looks at a Christmas party, a court heard.

Richard Holden, 33, was working for former defence secretary Michael Fallon when the attack on the woman, 24, is said to have taken place in 2016.

While hugging her goodbye, Holden is accused of putting his hands inside her coat before reached under her skirt to grope her at his home in Vauxhall, south London.

Prosecutor Eleanor Laws told Southwark Crown Court: “On the 17 of December there was a party in south-east London.

“There wasn’t anything unusual or exceptional about this party which perhaps between 20 or 30 people came and went in the course of the evening.

“All of them were relaxing in the run-up to the festive Christmas season.”

The court heard that one of the guests left at around 11pm and was approached by Holden on her way out.

The prosecutor said: “He came to say goodbye to her and when he did that he gave her a great big hug and took the opportunity in doing so to put his hands inside her coat and over the back of her skirt and then up her skirt touching her vaginal area over her underwear.

Ms Laws added: “At the time he was working as a special advisor to Michael Fallon, the member of Parliament for Sevenoaks but also at the time the Secretary of State for Defence.”

The court heard that throughout the evening Holden had approached the alleged victim and been ‘complimentary’ about her appearance.

The woman claims she remembers Holden’s flat mate pulling him away from her after the incident.

Ms Laws said: “It was a very quick incident.

“Her recollection was that one of the flat mates came and pulled Mr Holden off her.

“She herself made some sort of remark to him about Mr Holden being a creep or words to that effect and then she left.”

The alleged victim then contacted a friend over messaging app Whatsapp saying she had been ‘groped’ at the party.

In one message she says. “I think I just got groped,” the jury heard.

In another she said: “Fucking Richard.”

The woman did not make a complaint to anyone until February 2 when shee made the allegation of sexual assault to Carrie Symonds, a special advisor to Sajid Javid, who was then the cabinet minister for Communities.

The complaint was also made to Anne Milton, the government’s deputy chief whip.

Holden joined the Conservative Campaign HQ in 2007.

He worked as the deputy head of the press office and special advisor to Baroness Tina Stowell, the former leader of the House of Lords.

Holden, of St Mary’s Gardens, Lambeth, denies one count of sexual assault.

The trial continues.

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