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MP denies sexual assault allegations

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Image caption Charlie Elphicke was charged in July

Independent MP Charlie Elphicke has pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual assault against two women.

The MP for Dover is accused of a sexual assault against one woman in 2007 and two assaults against a different woman within a week of each other in 2016.

At Southwark Crown Court, Mr Elphicke denied the charges of sexually touching the two women without their consent.

The 48-year-old, of Dover, was bailed to return to the same court for a trial on 29 June.

His trial is expected to last between 10 days and three weeks and may involve at least 15 witnesses.

At a previous hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mr Elphicke indicated he would give a not guilty plea in front of a crown court judge.

Social media warning

During the hearing, Judge Deborah Taylor issued a warning to the public gallery after Mr Elphicke’s defence raised potentially illegal comments about the case made on Twitter.

She said: “It is not only news outlets that are subject to contempt of court rules. Members of the public who prejudge cases by posting comments on places such as Twitter or Facebook are subject too.”

Mr Elphicke represented the Conservatives from 2010 until November 2017, when he was suspended from the party after the allegations of sexual assault were referred to the police.

He was readmitted to the party in December 2018, prior to a confidence vote in then Prime Minister Theresa May.

The now-Independent MP was formally charged in July this year and was again suspended by the Tories on the same day.

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-49935183

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