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Nigel Evans: Groping allegations are absurd, MP tells court

By Pat Hurst and Kim Pilling

Former deputy speaker Nigel Evans has told a jury it was "absurd" that he would cup the privates of a stranger as "a form of introduction".

The 56-year-old MP is said to have groped the man in a Westminster bar with others present, including ex-MP Lembit Opik, after he met him.

It was among a string of sexual offences he denied as he stood in the witness box at Preston Crown Court to give evidence in his defence.

He is alleged to have sexually assaulted seven young men between 2002 and last year by using his "powerful" political influence to take advantage of them, often while drunk.

Asked about the "principal allegation" that he raped and sexually assaulted a 22-year-old man at his home in his Ribble Valley constituency, he said sexual intercourse did take place between them but it was "absolutely with consent".

His barrister Peter Wright QC asked: "Have you ever taken a man by the genitals in the Strangers Bar as a form of introduction, one to the other?" Evans replied: "No. It's as absurd as it sounds."

The trial continues on Monday.

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