SPAD accused of groping is actually a feminist, says former cabinet member

A Government spin doctor accused of groping a woman under her skirt is actually a feminist, according to an former cabinet member.

Baroness Tina Stowell told jurors that Richard Holden never showed “any signs of any sexism whatsoever”.

Holden, 32, an aide to former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, denies sexually assaulting the woman during an “over-the-top hug” at a party at his south London home.

The woman, now 24, is accused of giving “inconsistent” accounts to the Chief Whip and her boss Home Secretary Sajid Javid three months after it happened.

Baroness Stowell, a former Leader of the House of Lords, vouched for Tory media advisor Holden when she entered the witness stand at Southwark Crown Court.

Holden was a special advisor to Baroness Stowell and her successor Baroness Natalie Evans following the 2016 General Election.

Baroness Stowell told the court: “The fact that he was somebody who all people were happy to talk to and transact business with for me is testimony to his integrity.

“I never saw in him any signs of any sexism whatsoever, and indeed the contrary.

“I think if he ever saw or observed anybody being sexist, he would be quick to be critical with that kind of thing and he had a good relationship with other girls in the office.

“I feel he is somebody, as I say, who demonstrates at all times a character which was positive.”

Holden attacked his victim after announcing he was in a relationship at the party in December 2016, jurors heard.

His girlfriend Charlotte Ivers said she started dating Holden the month before the alleged incident and they announced they were an “item” at the party.

Miss Ivers said: “We made it public on the night of the party and on an ongoing basis for the rest of the week.”

Sarah Whitehouse QC, prosecuting, played down “inconsistencies” in the victim’s seven accounts of the incident in her closing speech to the jury.

She said : “You are entitled to ask why would this young woman lie about this embarrassing and shameful event, why would she lie to her frinds, to the Chief Whip, to the Home Secretary, to you on oath in this court, to the police and in a witness statement, why?

“This was a large rock thrown in to a calm pool, you might have thought, which caused waves for everybody involved in it.

“[The victim] had nothing to gain by going to the police with a made-up story, you might think, and she had a great deal to lose.”

Holden, of Kennington, south London, denies one count of sexual assault.

The trial continues.

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