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Natalie Elphicke accused of ‘lobbying’ justice chief over her sex offender husband’s trial

I’m ditching my suit to create a more relaxed mood for young players at Euros : Gareth Southgate
Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 01:40:33 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 01:40:33

Sir Robert Buckland has said the Dover MP, who has recently defected to Labour, approached him prior to her former spouse’s hearing Gavin Rodgers Conservative defector Natalie Elphicke has been accused of lobbying the justice secretary in 2020 to interfere in her then-husband’s criminal sex offences trial

Sir Robert Buckland has said the Dover MP, who has recently defected to Labour, approached him prior to her former spouse’s hearing

: Gavin Rodgers

Conservative defector Natalie Elphicke has been accused of lobbying the justice secretary in 2020 to interfere in her then-husband’s criminal sex offences trial.

Sir Robert Buckland has said the MP who has now crossed the floor to Labour approached him when he was lord chancellor and justice secretary before the hearing of Charlie Elphicke’s case.

She allegedly told Sir Robert that it was unfair the case was the first to be heard at Southwark Crown Court after the Covid lockdown and that it was being overseen by Lady Justice Whipple, The Times reported.

One person present viewed her comments as a bid to have the case moved to a lower-profile court to spare her partner public scrutiny, while another saw it as an attempt to replace the senior judge, according to The Times.

Sir Robert rejected her plea, suggesting his intervention could undermine the constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers between Parliament and the judiciary.

The Tory MP told The Times: “She was told in no uncertain terms that it would have been completely inappropriate to speak to the judge about the trial at all.”

: PA/Liam McBurney

Ms Elphicke’s former husband and predecessor as MP for Dover was later convicted of sexually assaulting two women and jailed for two years.

She ended the marriage after his conviction but supported his unsuccessful appeal, saying Mr Elphicke had been “attractive, and attracted to women” and “an easy target for dirty politics and false allegations”.

Ms Elphicke allegedly also tried to secure him better prison conditions, asking for more comfortable pillows, the publication has reported.

The new Labour MP denies the characterisation of the meeting with Sir Robert and that she asked for improved jail conditions.

A spokesman for Ms Elphicke told The Times: “This is nonsense. It’s certainly true that Mr Elphicke continued to be supported after his imprisonment by a large number of Conservative MPs who had known him for a long time, including some who visited him and independently lobbied on his behalf, which was nothing to do with Natalie.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Natalie Elphicke totally rejects that characterisation of the meeting.

“If Robert Buckland had any genuine concerns about the meeting, then he should have raised them at the time, rather than making claims to the newspapers now Natalie has chosen to join the Labour Party.”

Labour MPs raise concerns

Following news of Ms Elphicke’s defection this week, Labour MPs raised concerns about the decision to admit her to the party, citing her comments about Mr Elphicke’s case and his victims.

In a statement on Thursday, she said she condemned “his behaviour towards other women and towards me”, adding it was “right that he was prosecuted” and she was “sorry for the comments that I made about his victims”.

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