POLITICS

Nigel Evans Quits As Deputy Commons Speaker Following Rape Charge

10/09/2013 21:58 BST | Updated 11/09/2013 10:33 BST
AP

Tory MP Nigel Evans has quit his job as deputy speaker of the House of Commons after being charged with a series of sex offences against seven men.

On Tuesday evening the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, QC, said the 55-year-old is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and one rape count.

Evans, who represents the Ribble Valley constituency in Lancashire, will appear before magistrates in Preston on September 18.

Starmer 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.

"Lancashire Constabulary has therefore been authorised to charge two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and one count of rape relating to a total of seven alleged victims.

"The decision in this case was taken by Joanne Cunliffe, an experienced specialist rape prosecutor, in consultation with John Dilworth, Head of the CPS North West Complex Casework Unit and in consultation with an external and highly experienced criminal QC.

"I have also been consulted on this case. The decision has been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the CPS legal guidance on rape and sexual offences.

"Mr Evans will appear before Preston Magistrates' Court on 18 September 2013."

The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between January 1 2002 and January 1 2004; the sexual assaults between January 1 2009 and April 1 2013, and the rape between March 29 2013 and April 1.

Evans, from Pendleton in Lancashire, answered bail today having previously been arrested in May and June.

He was rearrested and interviewed by detectives throughout the day before being charged tonight.

The Swansea-born politician had arrived earlier at Preston police station in a silver Jaguar XF driven by his solicitor.

He smiled and said: "Thanks for coming" to members of the press who had gathered outside.

He 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."

He has stepped aside from his Speaker duties since his arrest, but has continued to work as an MP. He 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. When Iain Duncan Smith became party leader in 2001, he was promoted to the shadow cabinet as shadow Welsh secretary - a post he held for two years.