Chief whip 'huffed' through meeting
A young man who demanded MP Nigel Evans resign after allegedly sexually molesting him was told "it can't be done" before the general election by the Tory chief whip, a court has heard.
Evans, 56, on trial for a series of sex attacks, allegedly molested the complainant by putting his hand inside his boxer shorts as he slept at the MP's house in Pendleton, Lancashire, in July 2009.
Two days later a meeting was arranged with Patrick McLoughlin, then the Tory chief whip in his House of Commons office, Preston Crown Court heard.
The young man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he told Mr McLoughlin, now the Transport Secretary, along with John Randall MP and Iain Corby, a Tory policy researcher, about the incident at the meeting.
"Mr McLoughlin's reaction was one of mainly irritation, he sighed and huffed and blew the whole time," the witness told the court.
"He said, 'So what do you want to happen now?'
"My response was that I thought Mr Evans should resign from his seat as MP for Ribble Valley.
"I believe I said immediately.
"Mr McLoughlin said, 'It can't be done'.
"'The timing is not right'.
"'I would find it very difficult to explain why an MP is leaving his seat at this point before a General Election'.
"'He has no immediate family that we can pass it off on'.
"'It can't be done'."
Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, asked: "Pass it off on?
"Wants to spend more time with his family?"
The witness replied: "Exactly."
Mr Randall, the then deputy Chief Whip, asked what the "issues" were with Evans.
The witness told the court he replied that Evans had a "massive issue with his own sexuality" as the MP at that point had not publicly come out as being gay, though it was an "open secret" in Westminster.
The witness continued: "I said that alcohol was a massive problem.
"He was a high functioning alcoholic.
"He was drinking every day."
The witness said the matter was resolved after it was agreed in the meeting that Evans would be "heavily sanctioned" by the whips and he would get counselling for his issues over sexuality and drinking.
Evans is on trial over claims he used his "powerful" political influence to take sexual advantage of seven young men - often while drunk.
He denies one rape, two indecent assaults and six sexual assaults said to have taken place on various dates between 2002 and last year.
It is alleged he had the "ability to make or break" careers and assaulted the alleged victims in his home, House of Commons bars and his office in the Palace of Westminster.
Earlier the witness told the court he was asleep on a sofa downstairs at Evans' house when he awoke to find the MP's hand inside his boxer shorts.
"He had his hand around my penis," he told the jury.
"I could just feel it on me.
"I immediately pushed Mr Evans and he pretty much flew across the furniture and I shouted, I think it was along the lines of, 'What the F do you think you are doing?'
"He was on the floor where I pushed him and he said, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry'."
Mark Formosa, a former Tory councillor, told the court of an earlier incident of alleged indecent assault by Evans on another man in a late-night incident in a bar at the Conservative Party conference in 2003.
Mr Formosa said he was drinking with a friend at 2am in the Number 10 bar at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool when he saw a "fracas" break out.
He told the jury: "I saw the younger man thrashing around very violently from side to side trying to wrench himself free from Mr Evans' grip.
"Mr Evans had his hand down the front of his trousers and was maintaining his grip and it seemed obvious that the younger man was not able to get him off him.
"I intervened along with several others in order to assist the younger man to get Mr Evans off him.
"We pulled him off and pushed him back towards the bar."
The MP was advised to get to bed, as he was speaking on the platform at the conference the next day, while his alleged victim spoke to another MP, Conor Burns, about what had just happened, the jury heard.
But Peter Wright QC, defending Evans, suggested that Mr Formosa was not telling the truth in his account of the incident, that it was a "fabrication", and questioned why he had come forward to police after Evans was arrested.
Mr Wright said: "Or is it you have just jumped on the bandwagon?"
The witness replied: "Well, that just isn't true."
Mr Wright continued: "Or is it you were simply motivated by enjoying a moment in the spotlight, Mr Formosa?"
The witness replied: "Well, that's not true."
Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, was in the lobby of the hotel and dealt with the "aftermath" of the incident when the young man complained to him about Evans, the jury heard.
Mr Burns said: "His complaint to me was that Nigel was being over-friendly and, he felt, inappropriate.
"I asked him to wait in the foyer I was in and went to have a chat with him (Evans), it was very late, he had to be on the platform tomorrow morning and it maybe an idea to call it a night."
Mr Burns added: "Nigel was and is a very popular, sociable Member of Parliament, respected on all sides of the House."
Mr Wright asked the MP: "It would not be the first time that somebody at a political or any form of conference have ever indulged in drink?"
Mr Burns replied: "It would not be the first and will not be the last."
Mr Wright continued: "And others have advised it's probably a good idea to go to bed?"
The MP said: "Correct."
The lawyer continued: "And probably not the first or last time somebody in drink has behaved indiscreetly?"
The MP replied: "Yes."
The trial was adjourned until tomorrow morning.