House of Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans charged with eight sexual offences

Stephen Wright — Daily Mail Sept 10, 2013

Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans was last night charged with a string of sex attacks on seven young men.

The 55-year-old Tory MP was told he will stand trial accused of eight offences, the most serious of which carries a maximum life penalty.

The decision to charge the openly-gay politician – a popular figure in Westminster – came after he was arrested for a third time yesterday morning.

Last night Evans was charged with the rape of a man between March 29 and April 1, 2013, five sexual assaults dating back to 2009 and two indecent assaults dating back to 2002.

Evans dismissed the original allegations against him as ‘completely false’, and said they had been made by two people he had ‘regarded as friends.

In June, after his second arrest, he said: ‘I continue to refute all allegations.’

Evans has now resigned from his Speaker duties, but last night said he would ‘robustly’ fight to prove his innocence from the back benches.

After spending more than 12 hours in custody, he joked to reporters about the darkened sky: ‘Is it still Tuesday?’

He continued: ‘May I assure everyone at this time that I will robustly defend my innocence.

‘I have today answered bail following complaints I have said were incredulous.

‘While I am saddened this case has not been closed today I am certain of two things – firstly that I am innocent, and secondly that my innocence will be demonstrated.’

Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC said: ‘Following an investigation by Lancashire police, the Crown Prosecution Service has received a file of evidence in the case of Mr Nigel Evans MP which concerns allegations of a sexual nature.

‘After careful consideration, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute Mr Evans.’

Evans was detained and quizzed on fresh allegations of indecent assault and sexual touching against two men in their 20s when he answered bail at Preston police station yesterday.

He had previously been arrested by Lancashire Police on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and three indecent assaults against five men, also all in their 20s.

Evans’s initial arrest in early May related to offences alleged to have been committed in Pendleton, Lancashire, between July 2009 and March 2013.

The three counts of indecent assault, over which he was arrested in June, are alleged to have happened in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011.

The two fresh allegations he was quizzed over yesterday related to alleged incidents in London between 2002 and 2009.

His trial is expected to take place next spring or early summer, something which will be will be of major concern for Tory strategists with a General Election looming in 2015.

He was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year, in an article in The Mail on Sunday, he came out as gay, saying that he was ‘tired of living a lie’.

He had in the past received threats of blackmail from political enemies threatening to expose him, he said.

Evans was brought up on a Swansea council estate and worked in his parents’ shop before studying politics at Swansea University.  He joined the Conservative Party when he was 16.

His career in politics began when became a councillor in 1985. He won Ribble Valley for the Tories in the 1992 General Election.

Evans will appear before Preston magistrates on September 18.