One of Britain’s richest and most powerful men was cleared of sexual assault last year. Four more women have come forward with similar allegations that Crispin Odey sexually assaulted them, with others alleging that he sexually harassed them at his Mayfair hedge fund company
Hello, I’m Tomini and this is the Sensemaker from Tortoise.
One story every day to make sense of the world.
Today, the allegations against one of Britain’s wealthiest men.
Crispin Odey is a hedge fund manager and political donor who, over the years, has cultivated an image of himself as an English country gentleman. In 1991 he started his own hedge fund company – Odey Asset Management.
The first trade which made him famous was correctly predicting that the value of insurers would rise after 9/11. Ahead of the 2008 recession he predicted that the value of British banks would fall. His firm made £55 million.
Before the Brexit referendum in 2016, he purchased private polling data that correctly indicated a Leave vote. Overnight, his funds made £220 million after he bet the stock market and pound would collapse.
“There’s that Italian expression, ‘Il mattino ha l’oro in bocca’ – the morning has gold in its mouth. And never has one felt so much that idea as this morning, really…”Crispin Odey
He also donated to Brexit’s Leave campaign, as well as to the Conservative party, Ukip and politicians like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Last year, Crispin Odey was found not guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in 1998. She was 26 at the time and working at an investment bank in London. Crispin Odey – who was 39 at the time and one of the bank’s clients – had invited her to his home in Chelsea to talk about work.
She alleged that Crispin Odey ordered Chinese food, changed into a robe, then lunged at the woman and groped her breasts and legs in his kitchen.
She says she wrestled him off and ran out. In court, Crispin Odey said that he did invite the woman home, that he did want to sleep with her, but denied assaulting her. He said that she became angry after he propositioned her and she stormed out.
After a three-day trial, Crispin Odey was found not guilty of the indecent assault charge, with the judge saying that the woman’s evidence was “riddled with troubling inconsistencies,” and that Crispin Odey could leave the court with his “good character intact”.
But four other women have since come forward with allegations that Crispin Odey sexually assaulted them.
Their accounts span from 1998 to 2021. It’s important to note that none of these women know each other. Tortoise’s Paul Caruana Galizia has documented their stories:
- One woman who met Crispin Odey at a wedding alleges that in 2004 he invited her to his home in Chelsea to discuss work. He gave her a tour of the house, including the bedroom, which worried her. She then alleges that downstairs he lunged at her, groped at her breasts and legs, and tried to force his tongue into her mouth. According to her account, he had his penis out. She alleges that she managed to fight him off and never saw him again.
- In 2006, Odey had a one-on-one meeting with a senior business executive in a meeting room at the offices of Odey Asset Management in Mayfair. After walking around the room talking about business, the woman alleges he lunged at her, running up and down her body, and putting his tongue on her face, before she fought him off. She hasn’t spoken to him since.
- In 2009, Crispin Odey invited a young woman to supper at a restaurant in Belgravia promising to offer friendly life advice. After some small talk, according to the woman, Odey lunged at her from across the table and groped both her breasts. She fought him off and asked what he thought he was doing. He then allegedly lunged at her again, trying to force his tongue into her mouth.
- A well-connected woman alleges that Odey assaulted her at a private social event in 2021, a few months after he was acquitted. Details have to be limited in order to protect her identity, but the allegation is similar in many respects to the others – although includes the accusation that Odey forced one of the woman’s hands onto his erect penis.
Crispin Odey did not respond to any of these specific allegations.
People who worked for Odey Asset Management also allege sexualised comments being made to a job candidate and crude, sexual jokes, unwanted massages, and propositioning towards a former receptionist – behaviour which could amount to sexual harassment.
This account is voiced by an actor:
“… I was on the phone and he would come down and start massaging my shoulders and start asking me really inappropriate things. So he’d be, ‘Oh, is your boyfriend into foreplay?’ Things like that. Just really, really gross. And I would try and get away and he’d just pull me back… It got to a point where I would hide in the office if he was coming in.”
The woman behind this account also told us that before she experienced this behaviour – and shortly after taking the job – she was talking to a group of men who worked in the financial industry who…
“… just kept making these hints and jokes about his behaviour. They all knew what he was like… these were guys way older than me. They were in their 40s and 50s and had been in the industry a long time. And they basically told me what it was like, but with humour. You know, it’s like a joke, like a massive joke.”
When Tortoise emailed Crispin Odey and the chief executive of Odey Asset Management a detailed list of the allegations against him, we received two responses.
One was from Odey Asset Management’s chief executive, Peter Martin. That response emphasised the independence of Odey Asset Management’s executive committee from Crispin Odey himself. It said it “treats all allegations extremely seriously,” that it has “robust policies and procedures” and that it would be inappropriate to respond to the allegations “due to confidentiality and privacy issues.”
The second was from Crispin Odey via his personal assistant, which said that Tortoise’s email to him “contains very many falsehoods and inaccuracies,” and that we should “be aware of the possible consequences.”
Crispin Odey was cleared at trial last year on the 1998 incident. We believe our reporting has shown there’s a culture that protects powerful men and prevents women from coming forward.
The institutions that are meant to hold them to account are not up to scratch – prosecution and conviction rates for sex offences are extremely low. Unless something changes, they’re likely to remain that way.
Thanks for listening to the Sensemaker from Tortoise. To hear the full story, search for the Slow Newscast wherever you get your podcasts or click on the link in this episode’s description.
This episode was written by James Wilson and produced by Matt Russell. It was based on reporting by Paul Caruana Galizia
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