A judge said the accuser may have been “inspired” by the MeToo campaign and Harvey Weinstein scandal, as one of Britain’s most high-profile hedge fund bosses has been acquitted of indecent assault.
District Judge Nicholas Rimmer questioned why 62-year-old Crispin Odey had been charged with groping a female investment banker, after a decision not to prosecute him was overturned by a victim review. While delivering his verdict, the judge said the woman had a “troubling preoccupation with press, money and an apparent desire for publicity of her complaint”
The multimillionaire was accused of lunging at the woman in 1998 at his Chelsea home after he had invited her to spend an evening with him following a client meeting. The woman, then in her 20s, who worked for a major investment bank, claimed Mr Odey had put his hand on her breast and up her skirt, before she “wrestled herself free and left”, said prosecutors. The complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, later told the trial she decided to report Mr Odey to the police in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in October 2017. Mr Odey insisted he did not grope her but admitted to police that he propositioned the young woman after he “misread the signals.”
Giving evidence at Westminster magistrates’ court, Mr Odey claimed the woman had asked him where he thought the evening was leading and was outraged when he replied, “If I’m lucky it might end up in bed”. She then claimed to have stormed out of his house. Mr Odey told the court that his accuser had been “massively” exaggerating what took place and it was a “horrible slur” to say he had groped her. After concluding the woman’s evidence was “riddled with troubling inconsistencies”, the judge found Mr Odey not guilty of indecent assault. In his closing speech, defence QC Crispin Aylett said the complainant did not go to the police at the time of her encounter with Mr Odey and had since concocted a “ridiculous narrative with all the connotations of Harvey Weinstein that that involves. She waited and waited until events on the other side of the world led her to believe she might become a standard-bearer for a regiment of other complaints against Crispin Odey,” he told the court. On the suggestion the Weinstein case and subsequent MeToo movement had “inspired” the complainant, the judge said: “I cannot discount that it might.”
The court previously heard that Mr Odey’s accuser said she was left “crushed” when she was told he would not face charges in October 2019. She wrote to the Crown Prosecution Service to encourage a review and Mr Odey was charged on May 14 last year. Mr Odey was a vocal backer of Brexit and is said to have donated £10,000 to Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign. He and his wife, Nichola Pease, who is also a hedge fund manager, are together worth around £825 million, according to The Sunday Times Rich List.
It has also been revealed that a second man, Julian Barrell, was accused of indecently assaulting her during a corporate day out at the Rugby World Cup in November 1999. Mr Barrell was cleared of the allegation in December 2020 after standing trial at Isleworth Crown Court.