Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

MP Evans in court on sex charges

Nigel Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, will make his first appearance in the crown court at Preston

Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, is due in court later today accused of sex offences against seven men.

Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, will make his first appearance in the crown court at Preston accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape.

The charges date from 2002 to earlier this year.

The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between January 1, 2002 and January 1, 2004; the sexual assaults - said to be touching without consent - between January 1, 2009 and April 1 this year; and the rape between March 29 and April 1 this year.

Evans resigned as deputy speaker of the House of Commons after he was charged on September 10.

He appeared at Preston Magistrates' Court last month and the case was committed to Preston Crown Court for a first hearing today.

Evans has protested his innocence and pledged to "see this through to the end".

He made a personal statement in the House of Commons the day after he was charged, claiming that facing the allegations was as hard as dealing with the deaths of his mother and brother in the past few years.

The Swansea-born MP, who lives in Pendleton, Lancashire, was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was "tired of living a lie".

Evans was a vice chairman of the Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001.

As deputy speaker, Mr Evans sat as an independent MP but he will not take the Conservative whip and will sit as an independent MP for his constituency.

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