Ex-special adviser to former defence secretary cleared of sex assault at party

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A former special adviser to ex-defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon has been acquitted of sexually assaulting a woman at a party.

Richard Holden was accused of groping the woman under her skirt at the event in London in 2016.

The 33-year-old was employed as one of Sir Michael’s media advisers until early last year.

He was found not guilty of one count of sexual assault at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

The jury of eight men and four women returned unanimous verdicts after deliberating for less than an hour.

One of the female jurors nodded and winked at him as she left the courtroom.

Judge Deborah Taylor said: “Obviously the defendant leaves the court without a stain on his character.”

The alleged victim, who is in her 20s, told the jury that Holden kept giving her hugs and telling her how beautiful she was during the party on December 17 2016.

He was alleged to have put his hands around her waist before moving his hands up her skirt and touching her intimately.

Holden, of St Mary’s Gardens in Lambeth, south London, said the incident did not occur and added: “I have no idea why she (the victim) has made up any of this.”

He said he was not romantically interested in the woman, he had no physical contact with her on that night and was in a new relationship with his girlfriend, who was also at the party.

He previously held a number of roles for the Tories, and spent several years in the Conservative Party press office.

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