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Minister ‘tried to get Boris Johnson to back Charlie Elphicke’

A cabinet minister attempted to lobby Boris Johnson on behalf of disgraced former Tory MP Charlie Elphicke after he was charged with sexual assault, it was claimed last night.

Elphicke, who represented Dover from 2010 until last year, is understood to have asked ministers to help him.

In November 2019, having been charged in July that year after 20 months of police investigation, he allegedly tried to convince members of the Cabinet to raise his case with the PM.

One Cabinet minister reportedly lobbied Mr Johnson, telling him: ‘We should do something, Prime Minister, to help Charlie.’ 

The PM was said to be ‘initially sympathetic’ but was warned not to intervene by another Cabinet minister and so did not, it was reported.

Elphicke was last week convicted of three counts of sexual assault against two women in 2007 and 2016. 

He is due to be sentenced later this year and could face jail.

‘Charlie went around saying that he had no idea why he was being investigated, so in a way there was a legitimate case for why people felt that he was being unfairly treated,’ a source told The Guardian. 

‘He successfully lobbied one of Boris [Johnson’s] Cabinet ministers, who raised it and said: “We should do something, Prime Minister, to help Charlie.”’

The revelation raises fresh questions about how senior Conservatives handled Elphicke’s case when he was under criminal investigation, and the extent to which MPs continued to support him.

Elphicke lost the Tory whip in 2017 when the allegations were referred to the police, but was reinstated in December 2018 before a vote of confidence in the then-prime minister, Theresa May.

Tory MPs, particularly women, felt unease when Elphicke and Andrew Griffiths, a colleague who had the whip removed after being accused of sexually inappropriate conduct, were welcomed back into the fold, The Guardian reported.

‘There was a lot of thumping of tables with fists and I remember just looking across at another woman with a frozen look,’ one Conservative who attended a meeting of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs in December 2018 told the paper.

Griffiths, who sent lewd text messages to two young women, was cleared of wrongdoing by the parliamentary standards watchdog in September last year.

The Cabinet Office and No 10 were contacted for a response.

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