United Kingdom

Crispin Odey in the dock over groping claims

Multi-millionaire hedge fund boss Crispin Odey has appeared in court to deny groping a junior banker at his Chelsea home. 

Odey, a 61-year-old Brexiteer and Boris Johnson ally who has donated vast sums to the Tory party, was charged in May with indecently assaulting a young woman in 1998. 

The banker, then in her 20s and at the start of her career, alleges that Odey invited her back to his spacious townhouse on an exclusive street in Chelsea after post-work drinks in a pub. 

Support: Crispin Odey with his wife Nichola Pease outside court in London

There he appeared wearing a dressing gown and 'launched himself' at the young woman, putting his hand under her blouse and grabbing her breast over her bra while sliding his hand up her skirt, prosecutors claim. 

Details of the allegations were heard in public for the first time yesterday, as Odey appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court flanked by his wife Nichola Pease, herself a successful fund manager. The couple, once known as the 'City's Posh and Becks' due to their high profile, are worth £825m according to the Sunday Times Rich List. 

Pease, 59, kept her arms folded during the hearing as details of the historic allegations were read out. 

Prosecutor Aaron McCalister said: 'This assault is said to have taken place by the defendant on the complainant who was then a junior employee of an investment bank in the summer of 1998. 

'The defendant effectively engineered a situation where they went back to his house. 

'He said he would change out of his suit and returned in a dressing gown. 

'The Crown say he launched himself at her, putting one hand on her back, groping her breast and putting his hand up her skirt.' 

At yesterday's pre-trial hearing, Odey spoke only to confirm his identity. 

The investor, who founded Odey Asset Management in 1991 and manages around £4billion for clients, was a customer of the investment bank where the young banker worked. 

The prosecution plans to call five witnesses, including four of the woman's former colleagues and her then-boyfriend. 

The young banker initially made Odey aware that she planned to pursue charges by email in 2013, the court heard yesterday. 

Odey denies the charges, and his trial is scheduled for February 17 and 18 next year at Hendon Magistrates' Court. 

Due to the nature of the charges, he could choose whether to have them heard in the Magistrates' Court or in the Crown Court. He opted to have the case heard by magistrates, without a jury. 

In a statement after the court hearing, Odey said: 'I am pleased that the magistrates have agreed to hear this historic matter quickly.

'I look forward to having the facts heard and maintain the allegation is untrue.' 

Odey's barrister, Crispin Aylett QC, added: 'This allegation is immensely damaging for Mr Odey both professionally and personally.' Odey, who has three the biggest donors to the campaign to leave the EU. 

The millionaire, who was educated at Harrow before graduating from Oxford University and qualifying as a barrister, has given almost £900,000 to pro-Brexit campaigns. 

He has donated at least £1.7m to the Conservative party over the last decade, and £100,000 to Boris Johnson's successful leadership campaign. 

After backing the movement to leave the EU, Odey then made £220m in the aftermath of the referendum as the value of the pound tumbled. 

The hedge fund boss also raked in £115m during the stock market's coronavirus crash in March this year, he told the Mail on Sunday that month. 

Odey and Pease's family home is a Grade II listed mansion, Eastbach Court, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire. 

The pair raised eyebrows in 2012 when they filed a planning application to build a £150,000 chicken coop, which stood taller than a bungalow and was replete with Roman-style columns. 

Before he married Pease in 1991, Odey was briefly married to Prudence Murdoch, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's eldest daughter.

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