MP’s aide cleared of raping woman in Westminster office

A Conservative MP’s chief of staff wiped tears from his eyes as he was acquitted of raping a young parliamentary worker in his boss’s Westminster office.

Samuel Armstrong, 24, was accused of attacking the woman when she fell asleep after a night drinking in the Houses of Parliament.

Samuel Armstrong, accused of attacking the woman when she fell asleep after a night drinking in the Houses of Parliament has now been cleared of charge.

The victim, who is in her 20s, said she "felt like a hostage" when she was raped twice by South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay’s senior aide.

But Armstrong, who was arrested after the woman was captured on CCTV running through the corridors of Westminster in tears in the early hours of October 14 last year, insisted they had consensual sex.

On Thursday, a jury of seven women and five men at Southwark Crown Court found him not guilty of two counts of rape, one of sexual assault and one of assault by penetration, after a two-week trial.

Jurors took more than five hours to return verdicts.

Armstrong, from Danbury in Essex, who has been suspended from his job since the allegations arose, had tears in his eyes as he left the dock before he was comforted by his father.

Armstrong attended a grammar school and joined Mr Mackinlay’s permanent staff after graduating with a politics and history degree from Nottingham University.

The Tory MP, who was not in Westminster on the night of the incident, previously told the court he and his aide were like "father and son".

On the evening of October 13, Armstrong and the complainant drank in a bar on the parliamentary estate, watched Big Ben chime on its terrace and sipped wine in the leader’s office in the Lords before going to Mr Mackinlay’s office.

Prosecutors alleged Armstrong "abused his position" once they were alone, before sexually assaulting her and raping her twice.

The woman was captured on CCTV running through the corridors of Westminster until she found a cleaner, who said she was "shaking and crying", holding on to him until police arrived.

Armstrong said he felt like he had been "punched in the stomach" when he was arrested early on the morning of October 14.

He was described by his barrister Sarah Forshaw QC as "earnest, a little geeky, awkward".

Giving evidence, he told how they danced to jazz music, began kissing, then joked as they had consensual sex in Mr Mackinlay’s office in the Norman Shaw building.

Ms Forshaw suggested the woman panicked and made the allegations after becoming distressed as she tried to leave the Palace of Westminster at around 2am - then was caught in the lie.

The court heard she was reluctant to hand her phone to police after sending a message to her boyfriend hours after the alleged attack saying she had given the story to a journalist.

Armstrong told jurors he regretted having sex in his boss’s office and said: "It was foolish. It was an act of enormous foolishness and as a consequence I have had the worst year of my life."

He said the allegations had cost him his "dream job" adding that he would "never, ever, ever" get his career back.

"While what I did is foolish, the point is I’m innocent of this and for whatever reason somebody is trying to make a horrible, horrible, horrible allegation," he said.

"The point is on this allegation, somebody is trying to send me to prison for a very long time for something I didn’t do."

- PA

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