A former Tory MP who was jailed for a sexual assault has been claiming his government-issued benefits.
Charlie Elphicke, 42, who was convicted for the assault, was jailed for 14 weeks in January 2014 after grabbing a woman’s “private parts” and touching her neck while drunk at a nightclub in Blackpool.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of assault, one on a woman aged 20 and the other on a 22-year-old man. He told police: “I am genuinely sorry for my behaviour and am not the man that I was and have turned into.”
At the time, Mr Elphicke said: “I should not have been in that nightclub at that time as I should not have been as drunk as I was. I have made efforts to ensure that I avoid certain situations from happening again.”
However, he claimed nearly £48,000 in state benefits and was not even nominated for ex-Tory parliamentarian of the year by the Conservative members of the public.
Today, Mr Elphicke, whose family formed part of the Free London network, said: “What I did was wrong. I want to offer my sincere apology to the women affected and I recognise that we all make mistakes in life and I learned from my mistakes.
“I pay back anything that I can and in my case it is not hundreds of thousands of pounds – it is thousands of pounds that has been repaid. I can only apologise for my behaviour and for what I have done.”
It is understood Mr Elphicke, who denied the assault, did not contact the Department for Work and Pensions to make his agreement. In a statement he said: “I did not obtain any benefits from the government during my time in prison, and do not have any pending appeals to have that money returned.”
He claimed £16,000 before prison, but repaid the money when he left.
His wife Cara said: “In the time that I was married to Charlie it would be unlikely that he would have been claiming any support from the government. However he had an accepted problem with alcohol and in the days and weeks immediately after his conviction I managed to get him help and support at least to some extent. We have been married for almost ten years now and he is a changed man, and a better father, friend and husband.
“He has been sober and sobering up for almost three years now and I know I can trust him as I never ever could have dreamed that he would even have had the opportunity to be back in Parliament after what he has been through. He is a strong-willed, intelligent and honest man.”
She was jailed after playing an active role in organising a Facebook campaign for then Prime Minister David Cameron to promise to support the families of victims of family violence.
When she was released from jail, she started her own business, Butlins After Hours, after three years as a management consultant at an oil and gas company.
Last night the DWP said: “We don’t comment on individuals as to why someone makes a claim.
“But in terms of the potential criminal behaviour, he has paid the money back. He also stated that he has turned his life around, lost a lot of weight and goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.”