Tory defector Natalie Elphicke apologises for defending sexual predator ex-husband

Natalie Elphicke's defection has reportedly concerned several female members of the Labour party

Conservative MP for Dover, Natalie Elphicke, speaks during a demonstration against the sacking of 800 P&O workers, near the Port of Dover on the south-east coast of England, on March 18, 2022. - P&O Ferries, which sails daily between Britain and France, on Thursday axed 800 UK crew with immediate effect and suspended services in a bid to stay afloat, sparking protests from angry staff and trade union fury. The Dubai-owned group announced it has shed more than one quarter of its staff in a drastic restructuring to save cash, and halted services for the next few days. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)
Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke has defected to the Labour Party. (Getty)

The Labour MP who defected from the Conservatives has apologised for comments she made supporting her ex-husband after he was convicted of sexual assault.

Natalie Elphicke's decision to join Labour had sparked criticism among those concerned about remarks she had made following the conviction of her former husband (and predecessor as MP for Dover) Charlie Elphicke in 2020 for sexually assaulting two women. He was jailed for two years.

Ms Elphicke had branded his conviction a "terrible miscarriage of justice" saying he had been a victim "easy target" for false allegations.

The current Dover MP has been a controversial figure and was suspended for attempting to influence legal proceedings involving her disgraced ex-husband. Following her defection, the Politico website reported that seven female Labour MPs said they were "uncomfortable" with her joining the party.

On Thursday, however, she condemned her ex-husband's "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”.

She said the period was "incredibly stressful" as she learned more "about the person I thought I knew".

She added: "It is vital that women can have confidence in the criminal justice system and our rates of prosecution and conviction are far too low as a country. Keir Starmer’s mission to halve male violence against women and girls is critical and I wanted to take the opportunity to express my explicit support for Labour colleagues working to realise it."

Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, with MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke, leaving Southwark Crown Court in London where he is on trial accused of three counts of sexually assaulting two women. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, with MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke, leaving Southwark Crown Court in London. (Getty)

Ms Elphicke was elected as Dover’s Conservative MP in 2019, taking over the seat that had been held by her then-husband.

She stood by him during his trial but she said their marriage ended with his conviction. They divorced in 2021.

Following the sentencing, Ms Elphicke admitted her ex-husband was in the wrong but added the sentence was “excessive” and suggested the court had been on “a mission".

She subsequently told the Sun that he had been convicted in a terrible miscarriage of justice", adding: "It was obvious to me from reading the evidence during lockdown that the criminal allegations against him were complete nonsense, and I still believe they are."

She said his "attractiveness" made him an "easy target for dirty politics and false allegations".

Mrs Justice Whipple told Mr Elphicke during his sentencing: “You’re a sexual predator who used your success and respectability as a cover. You required both women to come to court and give evidence about the assaults you had made on them. That was not easy for them and they displayed great courage."

In September 2021, Ms Elphicke was suspended for one day from parliament for attempting to influence legal proceedings involving her former husband.

She was one of five Conservative MPs who had sought to interfere in a decision regarding Mr Elphicke.

They wrote to senior members of the judiciary using House of Commons-provided stationary, expressing their concern about a more junior judge potentially publishing pre-sentencing character references related to Mr Elphicke.

The committee on standards concluded that the letters were an "attempt improperly to influence judicial proceedings".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with former Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke in his parliamentary office in the House of Commons, London, after it was announced she has defected to Labour, hitting out at the
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with former Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke in his parliamentary office. (Getty)

Ms Elphicke's outspoken support of the government's Rwanda Act, which Labour has said it will repeal, has also raised eyebrows over her decision to defect.

A year ago, she used a newspaper column to claim “not only have Labour got no plan of their own to tackle illegal immigration, they simply do not want to” and said Starmer “has pledged to rip up our world-leading partnership to remove illegal migrants to Rwanda”.

The MP also wrote an article labelling Starmer “Sir Softie” and saying he could not be trusted on immigration.

Asked about her previous criticism of Labour over immigration policy, she said Sunak “was the man who said he would stop the boats” but so far this year there had been “record numbers of small boats arrivals”.

Ms Elphicke added: “So, he’s not stopping the boats and he’s letting the country down. Meanwhile under Labour, they are clear that it is important to have defence and they want to make sure that they have good national security. So I think we should have confidence that Labour are the party who will tackle this issue of the small boats crossings.”

England's forward Marcus Rashford reacts after missing a penalty during the UEFA EURO 2020 final football match between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium in London on July 11, 2021. (Photo by JOHN SIBLEY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Marcus Rashford reacts after missing a penalty during the EURO 2020 final vs Italy. (Getty)

Ms Elphicke previously courted controversy when she engaged in a public spat with England striker Marcus Rashford, suggesting the footballer should have spent more time “perfecting his game” than “playing politics” after he missed a penalty in the Euro 2020 final.

Rashford ran a high-profile campaign to persuade the government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters throughout the school holidays during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Elphicke apologised, but shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, her new colleague, was so incensed by her comment she said the then-Tory MP should “f*** off”.

In her apology, she said: "Last night I shared the frustration and heartbreak of millions of other England fans.

"I regret messaging privately a rash reaction about Marcus Rashford's missed penalty and apologise to him for any suggestion that he is not fully focused on his football."

England lost the final to Italy on penalties.