A former Conservative politician who received a two-year prison sentence for sexual assault lost his appeal against the ruling on Tuesday.
Charlie Elphicke, 49, who was convicted in July and jailed in September after being found guilty of groping two women almost a decade apart, attempted to argue through his legal representatives at the Court of Appeal that his sentence should be suspended.
However, Lady Justice Carr said the former Dover MP "prepared to repeatedly exploit his position of power and trust in order to pursue his sexual desires." She added that he "preyed on those in a weaker position than himself, using his success and respectability as a cover."
"He used his power in order to create conditions in which he believed he could act on his sexual desires without fear of consequence."
His lawyer, Rachna Gokani, said that Elphicke had suffered "the loss of his career, his marriage, and his good character."
She also claimed that the former MP had contracted coronavirus while in prison and had been kept locked in his cell for 47 hours straight as a result.
“He was in quarantine for a total of eight weeks because of movement between four different prisons, on one occasion because of an error by Southwark crown court," Gokani said.
During his September hearing at Southwark Crown Court, Justice Whipple told Elphicke that he used his success and respectability "as a cover" but had "considered carefully" whether the sentence should be suspended.
"[But] bearing in mind the gross breach of your position of power...I am satisfied that appropriate punishment can only be achieved by immediate custody," she concluded.
Elphicke was ordered by the court to pay £35,000 in costs, despite his “fair bit of debt,” according to his lawyer. His wife, Natalie, loaned him £100,000 in order to cover the legal fees.
After the allegations were levelled against him, Elphicke was suspended by the Conservative Party – Information of the assault was given to law enforcement in November 2017, but he had the whip restored the following year, just ahead of then-Prime Minister Theresa May's vote of confidence.
In July 2019, he received a second suspension after being charged with sexual assault on three counts.
Following the conviction, reports claim that he had became estranged from his 20-year-old daughter, Charlotte. His wife, and current Conservative MP for Dover, also ended the couple's 25-year marriage.
What are the accusations?
The accusers, who were both members of his parliamentary staff, allege instances of assault by the politician roughly a decade apart.
Last year, the court heard claims by the first woman that in 2007, Elphicke invited her to have a drink with him as children slept and his wife was away on work.
She claimed that he inquired about bondage and sex, kissed and groped her, and chased her around his home while yelling “I’m a naughty Tory."
The second victim claimed Elphicke tried to kiss her and then groped her when they met up for a drink in Westminster in April 2016.
“I’m so naughty sometimes," he allegedly said.
She said he assaulted her again the following month when he ran his hand up her thigh.
Telling jurors that she was physically repulsed by him, the woman said she rejected his advances after he expressed to her he had “not been happy for years” in his marriage.
Elphicke denies both assault accusations.