Charlie Elphicke's mother-in-law: 'He's ALWAYS been a sexual predator'
‘Just a Naughty Tory? No, he’s ALWAYS been a sexual predator’: Charlie Elphicke’s mother-in-law reveals the convicted MP was caught romping at a family party – and pleads with her daughter to cut him out of her life for good
Though Natalie, Elphicke’s successor as MP for Dover and Deal, announced she was divorcing him after he was found guilty in July, she spoke out in his favour last month, claiming he had not had a fair trial, and supported his immediate appeal against his sentence
Julia Pears isn’t the first mother-in-law to harbour doubts about her daughter’s husband. But few will have been driven to the kind of explosive fury that she has for hers.
For Mrs Pears has the misfortune to count disgraced former Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke — the self-proclaimed ‘Naughty Tory’ — as a son-in-law.
Last month Elphicke, 49, was jailed for two years for sexually assaulting two vulnerable young women and branded a ‘sexual predator’ by a judge.
Understandably, Mrs Pears was disgusted by his actions — but not at all surprised.
Speaking for the first time, she insists Elphicke, who is married to her daughter, Natalie, has ‘always been a sexual predator’.
‘I knew he was guilty,’ she says. ‘I was not surprised, having watched his behaviour at parties over many, many years. He has always been a predator :sexually, politically and personally.’
As for his punishment — which has been condemned by some, including, extraordinarily, the betrayed Natalie Elphicke, for being too harsh — Mrs Pears says it wasn’t severe enough,
She believes Elphicke should be locked up for five years, more than double his current jail term, because of the extreme distress he caused his victims.
‘You have to look at what the victims went through. He will never have any remorse,’ she says.
Should anyone claim to know the dark side of Charlie Elphicke, it is Mrs Pears and her husband, Les, first-hand witnesses, as they describe today, to his consistently inappropriate behaviour, which was often, to their despair, shamelessly exhibited in front of friends, family and colleagues.
Julia Pears isn’t the first mother-in-law to harbour doubts about her daughter’s husband. But few will have been driven to the kind of explosive fury that she has for hers
They say they knew Elphicke had ‘acted inappropriately from the very beginning’, long suspecting he was unfaithful to their daughter Natalie, a successful lawyer, whom he married in 1995.
‘He was always very flirty with other women and would try to turn it into a joke. He would say inappropriate things and talk about porn, then just say he was ‘naughty’,’ Mrs Pears said.
At times, his bravado and coarse behaviour took their breath away, including on one occasion at Elphicke’s Belgravia townhouse, when Les caught him with another woman in the marital bedroom during a family party.
‘I wanted to use their en-suite and there he was, with another woman, the house full of people and he didn’t care,’ Mr Pears says.
‘He just thought it was a laugh,’ he went on. ‘He would call himself a ‘naughty Tory’ or a ‘silly Tory’.
‘I told Julia he would get caught sooner or later. You don’t get away with such behaviour for long.’
Thoroughly upstanding, a former head teacher and one-time town mayor, Mrs Pears is deeply distressed her daughter stood by Elphicke after his conviction.
Though Natalie, Elphicke’s successor as MP for Dover and Deal, announced she was divorcing him after he was found guilty in July, she spoke out in his favour last month, claiming he had not had a fair trial, and supported his immediate appeal against his sentence.
All this, despite enduring the indignity of hearing her husband admitting to pursuing both of his victims for sex — although he denied assault — and confessing to a two-year affair with a third young woman. It makes Mrs Pears fear that Natalie, who has a son, 13, and daughter, 20, with Elphicke, may not yet have shaken him from her life for good.
Mother and daughter were once very close, but they have not spoken for almost ten years after Mrs Pears challenged Elphicke about his behaviour.
‘It has broken my heart that I don’t see Natalie,’ says Mrs Pears. ‘He has isolated her; she has very few friends and they are mainly work colleagues.
‘I hope she finalises her divorce and has the rest of her life with someone else.’
But in a recent newspaper interview Natalie showed little sign of the kind of awakening her mother is desperate for.
Instead, she said she has not ruled out rekindling her marriage with the ‘only man she has ever loved’, and revealed he had been staying at the family’s £1.4 million Kent home while on bail.
Describing her husband as ‘charming, wealthy, charismatic and successful — attractive, and attracted to, women’, Natalie claimed he was ‘an easy target for dirty politics and false allegations’. His crimes were ‘nonsense’.
Mrs Pears, however, continues to pray for a turnaround: ‘Natalie is sensible, I hope she has the strength and it would be better for the children to have one parent who is not associated with this type of behaviour.’
There’s no doubt that Mrs Pears is all the more heartbroken because her daughter had made such a success of her life. Grammar school-educated Natalie studied law at the University of Kent before becoming a successful finance lawyer, winning an OBE in 2015 for her services to the housing industry.
She married Elphicke 25 years ago in a grand ceremony at the prestigious Dulwich Picture Gallery, with music by a resident pianist from the Savoy hotel.
Like any mother, Mrs Pears was swept up in the excitement of organising the big day. ‘I wanted Natalie to be happy. We had always been very close and we went to buy her wedding dress together.’
The guest list, she says, was crammed with contacts, much in keeping with her son-in-law’s habit of using every family event as a political or business opportunity.
As for his punishment — which has been condemned by some, including, extraordinarily, the betrayed Natalie Elphicke, for being too harsh — Mrs Pears says it wasn’t severe enough. Natalie and Charles Elphicke are pictured above on their wedding day
Before he was elected as an MP in 2010, Elphicke was a partner in a law firm, and a local councillor. ‘It was a lavish affair and Charles wanted every possible connection there. For Charles, it was all political all the time.
‘Everything was about serving his ambitions in politics. He was only interested in you if he thought you could help him.’
Mr Pears — Natalie’s stepfather — was thoroughly disconcerted about the man who was about to join their family, a feeling dating from the moment he had met Elphicke, when Natalie brought him to their home in Kent. ‘He turned up with her one weekend and I never liked him, I just had a feeling. I said that from day one, but you can’t say who your kids can marry.’
Regardless, on the wedding day itself, both toasted the couple to a long and happy life together. Clearly, that wish was in vain.
The Pearses live quietly, having moved from Kent to a farmhouse on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds where Julia runs Bully Rescue — a charity looking after and rehoming rescue dogs. Les, a retired trucker, spends his time working on his cars.
It’s a world away from Westminster, and their son-in-law’s swanky Belgravia home, where, says Mrs Pears, tempers would often boil over, often fuelled by Elphicke’s drinking.
‘He collected wines and had a complete wine cellar,’ she says.
Elphicke, who was described as a ‘bully’ with a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ personality in court, would, Mrs Pears claims, often fly into rages over the slightest thing. On one occasion, she alleges that he manhandled her aggressively just because he didn’t like the way she was mopping a floor.
‘He lost his temper, started shouting at me, his face was in my face and I was really scared,’ she says. ‘He tried to pull the mop off my hands and he was physically aggressive.
‘He didn’t like the way I was mopping — that was all it was, and it’s just example of his controlling behaviour.
‘I said: ‘I’m not going to be threatened and bullied by you.’ And I picked up my bag and left.’
So what was his appeal to her daughter? It mystifies her, still.
‘I don’t think he’s personable to women, he’s a predator. He’s never sincere. He deliberately tried to hurt people. I think he enjoyed it.
‘For example, one Christmas he said he had found a good church for Midnight Mass for us, which was important to me because I’m a Catholic.
‘But when we went in, it was a Church of England church, not a Catholic one. I turned and walked out and Natalie — she is Catholic, too — followed. She was crying as we walked home. He had no respect for me and would abuse me like that.’
It is her grandchildren about who Mrs Pears thinks the most: while Natalie and her son-in-law pursued their careers, she happily stepped in to care for them — until Elphicke, she says, prevented her from doing so, following their furious confrontation over his behaviour.
‘After all of those years, when I looked after the children and gave up my own career, Charles stopped me seeing my grandchildren,’ she says, visibly moved.
During his trial, the court heard how Elphicke’s daughter has cut all ties with her father, and also lost her place at an Oxbridge university after her grades faltered.
Meanwhile, his son has suffered both emotionally and academically after bullies taunted him about his father’s crimes.
But despite the toll on the family, Natalie Elphicke was at his side every day throughout the three-week trial, arriving at the court hand in hand and putting on a show of stoic support and loyalty.
Elphicke’s downfall started one evening in 2007 when he found himself alone in his Belgravia townhouse with a woman in her 30s. Natalie was away on a business trip and their two young children — including their son, who was only a few months old — were asleep upstairs.
First he quizzed the woman about her sex life, asking if she was into bondage and whether she liked ‘silk or leather’.
Then he pounced on her, kissed and groped her, before chasing her around the house chanting ‘I’m a naughty Tory’ and slapping her bottom in a scene described as being straight out of a Benny Hill sketch.
‘He just basically jumped on me,’ the woman said. ‘He pushed me down by my shoulders, he had his knee between my legs and he was groping my breast.
‘He was trying to put his mouth on my mouth. It wasn’t what I’d describe as a peck. It was like an opened mouth smush on my face. He was all over me.’
Then, in 2015 he started a two-year affair with a second young woman whom he had met through his work.
His eye, though, continued to rove, and, in 2016, it latched on to a third woman, a Parliamentary worker in her early 20s.
Complaining about his ‘unhappy marriage’, Elphicke plied her with champagne, after which he kissed and groped her. A second assault took place at a later date.
Throughout his trial, Elphicke painted a picture of himself as lovestruck, or merely chancing his luck by ‘propositioning’ the women. Meeting woman No. 3, he said, led to a situation where he ‘lost his head’ after becoming besotted by the ‘amazing’ younger woman’s ‘vitality and smile’.
His deceit was continual — when the third woman complained about what had happened to Conservative Party whips, Elphicke lied and lied again, first to senior Tory Party members then to police and his wife, calling the allegations ‘appalling and untrue’.
Despite these shameless attempts to conceal the truth about his misdemeanours, during the trial, Elphicke’s defence counsel asked the judge for ‘mercy’, claiming his client’s life had been left in tatters — even presenting 34 character references including some from ‘serving MPs’.
However, an application to disclose the names of these MPs has been blocked by the defence barrister, who claims the reports contain private information.
It’s something which disgusts Mrs Pears, a former councillor: ‘The public have a right to know who these MPs are. They should not have any preferential treatment just because they are MPs. I think they should be deselected immediately,’ she says angrily.
‘I don’t think any constituency in this country would select an MP who was supporting a convicted sexual predator,’ she adds.
It’s all too in keeping with his character, she says, that Elphicke has immediately decided to appeal against his jail sentence.
‘He’s very arrogant and he believes that he’s better than everyone,’ she says. ‘He believes that because he was a lawyer, the other side are not as good as him.
‘Now is the time to speak out about him,’ she adds firmly.
In his mother-in-law, it seems, Elphicke has finally found a woman who is more than willing to stand up to him.
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