Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Westminster rape trial: victim fed story to press

Samuel Armstrong

LONDON: A woman who claims she was raped by a Tory aide approached the press the next day ‘to ensure a sympathetic write-up’, a court heard.

Samuel Armstrong, 24, is accused of raping the woman in the early hours of October 14 last year.

At Southwark Crown Court today, jurors heard the woman came up with the story and told a friend to speak with journalist Harry Cole at The Sun ‘to control the story’.

But she claims Armstrong, the chief of staff to Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay, pounced on her as she fell asleep following a night drinking in the Houses of Parliament.

Jurors heard Armstrong grabbed her hair and raped her a second time, all while calling her a ‘bitch’ throughout the alleged ordeal.

CCTV footage showed the alleged victim, who is in her 20s, ‘in distress’ as she ran through the corridors of Westminster at 2am.

After denying that she made any direct approaches to the press herself, she claimed it was one of her ‘friends’.

The court then heard a text message from the alleged victim which said it was her ‘way of controlling the story’ to ensure she got a ‘sympathetic write-up’.

The alleged victim told the court: ‘I said before, I really didn’t want my identity to come out.

‘It was a state where I had absolutely no control of the event, so I wanted a little bit of control and it wasn’t actually me who gave it to them.’

Jurors also heard how the woman expressed being ‘unhappy’ that the Tory aide had been charged so early.

But she claimed that was simply because she needed ‘more time to think whether I wanted to continue’ with her allegation.

Sarah Forshaw QC, defending, told the court that the sex was consensual.

Ms Forshaw claimed the victim undressed herself and bent over a desk as sex on the sofa was too awkward.

The barrister said: ‘Do you remember him saying, “How does the size suit the lady?” A bit like a tailor might, I suppose. And you said it suited you very well?’

The victim said: ‘No.’

The court also heard the alleged victim had sex earlier in the evening with her boyfriend before heading to Westminster to meet Armstrong.

Armstrong, from Chelmsford, Essex, denies two counts of rape, one count of assault by penetration and one count of sexual assault.

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