06:55 GMT +312 November 2019
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    ‘Geeky, Awkward' Aide Cleared of Raping Woman in Office of Conservative MP Boss

    © AFP 2019 / JOHN D MCHUGH
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    A UK MP's chief of staff of an MP has been cleared of raping a woman in the backbencher's Westminster office after a boozy session in a bar at the Houses of Parliament. The MP himself is stand trial himself next year for alleged expenses fraud.

    An aide to a Conservative MP who claimed the woman he had sex with "made all the apportionate noises" has been cleared of sex crime allegations.

    Samuel Armstrong was accused of sexually assaulting her in the Westminster office of his boss, Craig Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet in Kent — but he was found not guilty of two counts of rape and two of sexual assault at Southwark Crown Court December 21.

    The pair had both been drinking in a bar at the Houses of Parliament on the evening of October 13, 2016, and were captured on CCTV dancing in Westminster Hall together before heading up to the office.

    Versions of Events

    It was there their version of events differed — the woman claimed she felt "like a hostage" and claimed Armstrong raped her twice, telling her, "this is what you want."

    She said before the attack he played jazz music and instructed her to dance with him.

    The woman said he then performed a sex act on her as she sat on the sofa.

    "She made all the appropriate noises," Armstrong told the court when giving evidence last week.

    He claimed they then had full sex, and he stopped midway through to change the music when a "mood killer" song came on.

    His barrister, Sarah Forshaw described him during his trial as "earnest, a little geeky, awkward" and Mr. Mackinlay told the court the aide was like a son to him.

    Ms. Forshaw claimed the woman, who had a boyfriend, panicked after they had consensual sex — the trial also heard she was reluctant to hand in her phone to police and a text message was found on it in which she told her boyfriend she'd given the story to a journalist, which would result in a "sympathetic" write-up.

    "My whole life has been turned upside down. For a year now I've not slept or eaten and I was innocent," said Mr. Armstrong after being acquitted, claiming it had cost him his "dream job," a role he'd "adored."

    "Were it not for the fact crucial evidence was disclosed to my defense team just eight working days before trial, there could well have been yet another miscarriage of justice in this case. While it is embarrassing and I have suffered and I am never ever, ever going to get my career back, that is not the point. The point is on this allegation somebody tried to send me to prison for a very long time for something I didn't do," he added. 

    "It was foolish. It was an act of enormous foolishness and as a consequence, I have had the worst year of my life. While what I did is foolish, the point is I'm innocent of this and for whatever reason, somebody is trying to make a horrible, horrible, horrible allegation," Mr. Armstrong said.

    High Profile Rape Trials

    It is the third high profile UK rape case in a week which has failed to bring a conviction.

    Mr. Mackinlay, who was not in London on the night of the incident, is due to go on trial in May charged with two counts of knowingly making a false election expenses declaration in relation to his expenses for the 2015 general election when he faced UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

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    consensus, office, MP, drinking, rape, sex, Conservative Party, Kent, United Kingdom, London
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