Multi-millionaire hedge fund manager Crispin Odey was today cleared of indecently assaulting a young female banker he had invited to his home 23 years ago.
The 62-year-old, who is worth an estimated £823million, was accused of assaulting the woman after inviting her back to his home in Chelsea in 1998, while his pregnant wife was away.
But today he walked free after a District Judge ruled in his favour – and said Mr Odey’s accuser had a ‘vivid imagination’ and gave evidence that was ‘riddled with troubling inconsistencies.’
The judge added: ‘I find troubling (the complainant’s) obvious preoccupation with the press, with your money, and her apparent desire for publicity of her complaint.’
Odey, then 39 and the boss of his own successful city firm Odey Asset Management, had invited the 26-year-old woman to his home in west London, for a business meeting. She had gone along thinking it would, ‘further her career’.
The hedge fund boss, an arch Brexiteer and Tory donor, admitted propositioning the woman, but denied touching her.
Speaking for the first time about the claims as he gave evidence at his trial, the businessman admitted that the episode had put a strain on his 30-year marriage, admitting he’d been forced to tell his wife and children about the incident.
It can now be reported that the woman also accused another investment banker, Julian Barrell, now 61, of groping her on a train in 1999.
Mr Barrell was acquitted of indecent assault following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court last December and friends have said he was stunned to be charged over an alleged incident that took place two decades ago.
Crispin Odey, 62, was visibly jubilant as he was cleared of indecently assaulting a woman in 1998. He and his wife left court together with their arms around one another today
Mr Odey pictured in 1995. Recalling the evening, the financier said he invited the ‘attractive and clever’ woman to his home in Chelsea, West London, after meeting her at his office
Married hedge fund manager Crispin Odey (arriving at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, yesterday) was cleared of indecently assaulting a female junior banker, in 1998
Who is Crispin Odey? The Brexit backing multi millionaire financier said to be worth £823m
Harrow-educated Odey, known for his two bottles of wine lunches, carved out a reputation in the heady days of the 1990s as one of the most successful hedge fund managers in the world.
He had originally planned a legal career after leaving Oxford University until he discovered that his father had mismanaged the family finances and run up huge debts.
In 1980, the Odeys were forced to sell the family home, Holtham Hall, together with its 4,000 acre estate, something that had been theirs since the 17th Century.
In an interview, Odey, who is descended from a line of Yorkshire industrialists and whose grandfather was a Tory MP, described his father as a ‘wastrel’ who survived on ‘handouts’.
After the family estate was sold, Odey began working for Barings International before setting up his own asset management company in 1991.
International financier George Soros invested over £100m in the start-up fund and it thrived when Odey correctly predicted the value of insurers would rise after the 9/11 terror attack.
He made further gains from predicting the 2008 financial crisis and became a Tory Party donor and a firm backer of Brexit.
He was criticised after boasting he had made £220m predicting that markets would fall after Leave won.
His fortune, together with that of his wife, also a fund manager, is now said to be £823 million. The couple, who have three children, have been dubbed the ‘Posh and Becks’ of the City.
Pease is Odey’s second wife as he had a brief marriage to Rupert Murdoch’s eldest daughter Prudence in the 1980s.
The family divide their time between a £6m pad in Chelsea and a grade II listed mansion on an estate overlooking the Forest of Dean in Gloucester.
At his country seat of Eastbach Court near the village of Coleford, Odey had a £150,000 chicken coop, dubbed ‘Cluckingham Palace’, built in the style of a Greek temple to house his collection of 20 birds.
Father-of-three Mr Odey, 62, admitted raising the possibility of sleeping with the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but denied one count of indecent assault.
Mr Odey, who was married with children at the time, admitted that he had ‘made a pass’ at the woman during the incident in 1998 when he was aged 39.
But he denied her claims that he had ‘acted like an octopus’ by putting his hands down her shirt and up her skirt before she fled the scene.
In finding Odey not guilty the judge said his accuser had a ‘vivid imagination’ and highlighted a catalogue of inconsistencies in her account of what took place.
Returning his verdict at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, district judge Nicholas Rimmer said: ‘I am left unsure of (the complainant’s account) because despite the strength of her emotion and tears, her credibility has been thrown into question and her evidence is riddled with troubling inconsistencies.’
Giving evidence from the witness box Mr Odey said: ‘I am embarrassed to say if she had gone along with it, I would have gone further.’
Asked if he would have ‘taken the opportunity’ to sleep with her that night, had it arisen, Mr Odey replied: ‘I might have … I don’t know, it didn’t happen.’
Defence counsel Crispin Aylett QC cited ‘contradictions’ in her evidence and said she had a ‘natural tendency to embellish and exaggerate’, which he said made her ‘look like an unreliable historian’.
The court heard the complainant went to the police in 2017 in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which sprang out of widespread disclosures about disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.
Mr Aylett, summing up, said 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’.
The judge, returning his verdict, said: ‘I find troubling her (the complainant’s) obvious preoccupation with the press, with your money, and her apparent desire for publicity of her complaint.’
He added: ‘Where there is any doubt in a criminal case, given the high standard of proof, it must be resolved in favour of the defendant.
‘I cannot dismiss the possibility that no more than your unwanted verbal advance or proposition to the complainant occurred on the evening in question.’
The judge said he found it ‘unsurprising’ that the Crown Prosecution Service initially decided not to charge Mr Odey, something subsequently reviewed and overturned by a chief crown prosecutor, despite no ‘stronger evidence’ emerging.
Addressing Mr Odey directly, the judge said: ‘I find you not guilty of this offence.
‘I acquit you, and you will leave this courthouse with your good character intact.’
The Chelsea property where the woman had claimed she was assaulted more than 20 years ago. Odey conceded that he had ‘made a pass’ at the woman during the incident when he was aged 39
At his country seat of Eastbach Court (pictured) near the village of Coleford, Odey had a £150,000 chicken coop, dubbed ‘Cluckingham Palace’, built in the style of a Greek temple
Newspaper proprietor Rupert Murdoch, right, with his daughter Prudence, 26, center, and new son-in-law Crispin Odey, when the couple were married at St. Michael’s Church, London, 1985
The woman met with ‘high-profile’ Odey (pictured in 1997) at Odey Asset Management, the company he founded in 1991
Odey’s fortune (left, in 2003), together with that of his wife, Nichola Pease (right) also a fund manager, is now said to be £823 million
Tycoon’s sister slams police for pursuing case
The tycoon’s younger sister Virginia blasted police for pursuing the case, saying that it should never have gone to court.
Speaking to MailOnline from her modest home in Derbyshire, Virginia, said: ‘I don’t think it should have gone to court. It’s 22 years ago and that’s a long time.
‘He is not a predator. There is no dirt on Crispin. I don’t think this case would have come to court had it been anyone else.
‘Look, he’s a grandee and he’s a toff and will be seen as that by the Met (police) and it would have been a coup if they got him.’
His sister insisted he was ‘not bling’ adding, ‘He lives very normally. He has got money and is very generous with it, but he is not bling.’
She also wants to know why he was forced to stand trial for something that happened so long ago in the febrile atmosphere of the City.
MailOnline has contacted the Met Police for comment.
Earlier, Oxford graduate Mr Odey accused the woman of ‘exaggerating, massively’ her account of what happened.
Mr Odey, who was 39 at the time, was accused of putting his hand down her shirt to touch her breast and putting his hand up her skirt.
Giving evidence in his defence, he said he propositioned the woman, then in her mid-20s, after she inquired where ‘this is going to end’, by replying: ‘If you’re lucky, it might end up in the bed.’
Recalling the evening, Mr Odey said he invited the ‘attractive and clever’ woman to his home in Chelsea, West London, after meeting her at his office.
Asked by his defence barrister Crispin Aylett QC if he had forced himself on the woman, Mr Odey replied: ‘Absolutely not’.
He denied indecent assault, and said the allegation against him was ‘a horrible thing, a horrible slur’.
The two-and-a-half-day trial heard the woman sent an email to Mr Odey in 2013 about the incident, in which she referred to him as a ‘sleazy, deceitful man who likes to prey on the innocence of young women’.
But she admitted lying that she had instructed a law firm in a second email to him, after she had gone to the police in October 2017.
Mr Odey said it was only then that he told his wife, Nichola Pease, who is also a hedge fund manager and has supported him throughout the trial, about the incident. He added that he also had to tell his three children.
Mr Odey said the sex assault accusation had put a great strain on his life and last year he had stepped down as Chief Executive of his firm, Odey Asset Management.
The 62-year-old Hedge fund manager Odey walked free after a District Judge ruled in his favour. Pictured: Arriving at Hendon Magistrates’ Court with wife Nichola Pease on February 17
Mr Odey pictured arriving at court today. Asked by his defence barrister if he had forced himself on the woman, Mr Odey replied: ‘Absolutely not’
At a previous hearing the woman, now in her late 40s, broke down in tears while giving evidence via video link from her home overseas. The woman complained to the bank, but was allegedly told to drop the matter or her career would suffer.
Mr Odey had arrived at the court clutching the hand of his wife.
In 2008, Mr Odey earned £28 million after successfully predicting the credit crunch, and backed a no-deal Brexit, but denied he was doing so in order to profit from a fall in the value of British companies.
The vocal Brexit backer, who is worth about £800 million, according to the Sunday Times Rich List, was briefly married to media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s eldest daughter Prudence in the mid-1980s, and has courted controversy over the course of his career through his investment strategies.
Last November he stepped down as chief executive of Odey Asset Management, the company he founded in 1991, saying he would focus on managing his own funds.
Woman accused second man of groping her – as his friends hit out at CPS over ‘flimsy’ evidence and admit ‘macho culture’ existed in the City in the late 1990s
The woman also accused another investment banker, Julian Barrell, now 61, of groping her on a train in 1999
The woman also accused another investment banker, Julian Barrell, now 61, of groping her on a train in 1999.
He was acquitted in December last year after a three-day trial and friends have said he was stunned to be charged over an incident that took place two decades ago.
One said: ‘He is angry that the CPS decided to go ahead and charge him on what he sees as the flimsiest of evidence.
‘There was no corroborating evidence that what this woman said took place happened. It was just her recollection.
‘The whole process from being charged to standing trial has been a huge strain on him and his family.
‘Naturally, his wife was very upset but has stood by him 100 per cent.’
Barrell, who owns a £4m home in Chiswick, West London, was working as a European equity fund manager for a City investment bank when he met the ‘attractive’ complainant on a train journey in 1999.
They had both attended a corporate day out at a Rugby World Cup match.
The woman claimed Barrell and his drunken friends, had told her to put her hands on her head as part of a joke in which they claimed they could make her breasts move without touching them.
The joke’s punchline was, ‘Oh no we can’t’ at which point Barrell is alleged to have groped her.
The woman said she was further humiliated when some of the drunk men tossed money at her.
Barrell, who now runs his own investment firm, denied groping and insisted his hand had merely brushed across her breasts.
The following day he apologised and sent a bunch of flowers to her office which she threw in the bin.
His friends said the complainant would have been fully aware of the ‘macho culture’ that existed in the City in the late 1990s.
She admitted in court that men would often ask her out and flirt with her and part of her job was to wine and dine investment managers like Odey.
Barrell’s friend added: ‘That is how it was in the City. The place was awash with money, with huge bonuses and everyone worked hard and played hard.
‘What went on then would not be acceptable now, but at the time that is how it was.
‘There was a culture of hard drinking and partying. This woman would have been fully aware of it and in the 1990s there weren’t many women in the City. It was a man’s world.’