Natalie Elphicke apologises for comments about ex-husband’s victims

MP Natalie Elphicke who defected from the Tories to Labour has apologised for comments she made supporting her ex-husband after he was convicted of sexual assault. Charlie Elphicke was found guilty of sexually assaulting two women in 2020.

Some Labour MPs had raised concerns about her saying he was “an easy target” for false allegations because he was “attractive. The Dover MP joined the Labour Party on Wednesday.

In a statement on Thursday she said she knew her defection would “put a spotlight on the prosecution of my ex-husband”.The period of 2017 – 2020 was an incredibly stressful and difficult one for me as I learned more about the person I thought I knew. I know it was far harder for the women who had to relive their experiences and give evidence against him,” she said.

“I have previously, and do, condemn his behaviour towards other women and towards me. It was right that he was prosecuted and I’m sorry for the comments that I made about his victims. Mr Elphicke, who was her predecessor as MP for Dover, was jailed for two years in 2020 for sexual assault.

Mrs Elphicke ended their marriage after his conviction but supported his unsuccessful appeal.In September 2020, she told the Sun newspaper he was “an easy target for dirty politics and false allegations” because he was “attractive, and attracted to, women”. Her previous comments had prompted criticism from some Labour MPs.

Jess Phillips, the former shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, said Mrs Elphicke should “account for her actions”. She told ITV’s Peston: “I’m all for forgiveness but I do think that that needs some explaining.”

Martin Abrams, a spokesman for left-wing campaign group Momentum, said Labour’s response to Mrs Elphicke’s apology showed clear “double standards. A hard-right Tory MP says sorry months after offensive comments and faces no repercussions,” he said.

“Meanwhile, Britain’s first black woman MP says sorry and is suspended for a year and counting. The Labour Leadership’s commitment to equalities lies in tatters. All that matters for Starmer is how right-wing you are.”

Diane Abbott, who remains suspended from the party in Parliament while it investigates alleged antisemitic remarks, was not available for comment.Announcing her shock defection on Wednesday, she hit out at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying under his leadership the Conservatives “have become a byword for incompetence and division”.

She said the government’s record on housing and border security were the key factors behind her decision, accusing Mr Sunak of broken promises and abandoning key pledges.

Some Labour MPs also expressed concern that Mrs Elphicke’s political views did not align with the party. The MP, who had been seen as on the right of the Tory Party, had previously been critical of Labour’s stance on immigration.

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield said her colleagues were “baffled” by Mrs Elphicke’s defection and she did not “believe for a second that [Mrs Elphicke] has suddenly transformed into a Labour MP”.

Source: BBC

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