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Charlie Elphicke is charged with three counts of sexual assault

An ex-MP changed his defence in his sexual assault trial after his wife saw texts he exchanged with a woman he was besotted with, a court heard.

Prosecutors say it was only in Covid-19 lockdown Charlie Elphicke “realised [his] lies” could be disproved.

Mr Elphicke, 49, who denies three counts of sexual assault, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court.

He told jurors he lied to police about his feelings for the parliamentary worker after he “lost his head”.

Mr Elphicke is accused of groping one woman in his home in 2007 and sexually assaulting a second complainant, the parliamentary worker he says he became “besotted” with, twice in 2016.

The former Tory MP for Dover said he did not tell police about propositioning her because he was concerned his wife Natalie would – wrongly – think he was having an affair with the woman, aged in her 20s.

Mr Elphicke told jurors it was only when his wife was going over text messages between her husband and the young woman during lockdown that she accused him of having an affair, partly due to kisses on text messages and a reference to “cat cuddles”, he said.

‘Pack of lies’

Eloise Marshall QC, prosecuting, described it as “a pack of lies”, citing only three kisses in more than 1,000 texts between them.

She told the father-of-two: “It was only when you and your wife went under lockdown you realised the lies you had told about (the parliamentary worker) could be disproved.

“You’re boxed into a corner and you’ve got no other choice.

“It’s not (the first and second complainant) who’ve lied, it’s you who’s lied.”

Mr Elphicke said: “No, I didn’t – I didn’t sexually assault (either woman).”

The prosecutor also accused Mr Elphicke of using his friend, former attorney general Dominic Grieve, to protect him when summoned to speak to senior party figures about the allegations, without telling Mr Grieve he had propositioned the parliamentary worker.

Mr Elphicke denies the suggestion.

The trial continues.

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