Nigel Evans will be welcomed back into the Conservative Party fold with a drinks party in parliament at the end of the month, having been found innocent of multiple charges of sexual assault.
The drinks reception, to which all MPs are invited, will be held on Tuesday 29th April. Parliament is currently in recess for Easter and politicians return to Westminster on Monday 28th.
The invite sent out by a MP friend of the former deputy Speaker said: "As you all know Nigel Evans has had the most miserable of years and has suffered what can only be described as the most hideous of injustices. I would like to make his return to the House one in which is made to feel welcome by as many people as possible."
Last week Evans was unanimously found not guilty of one count of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults. Since the trial concluded Tory MPs have rallied to Evans' side, condemning the Crown Prosecution Service for taking the case to court in the first place. MP David Morris told HuffPost UK it was "a sad day for democracy" when Evans was "brought down" by the allegations. "His private life has been dragged through the coals for what reason? Why have they done it to him?" he said.
The welcome back party is another move designed to help the MP for Ribble Vally feel at home in parliament. However Evans now sits on the backbenches as an independent having given up his job as deputy Speaker to face trial. Tory MPs have urged the Conservative leadership to return the party whip to Evans so he may formally sit as one of them now he has been cleared.
The fallout from the trial is also still being felt in Westminster and within the Conservative Party. On Monday evening Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP who initially raised allegations linked to Evans with Commons Speaker John Bercow, expressed surprise at the "rank hostility" she has faced from colleagues for seeking to to help people she believed had been the victims of abuse
"The people who truly have questions to answer are those who have for so long turned a blind eye to the reports of such harassment. I didn't, and don't, want to be one of them."
Labour's shadow minister for childcare and children also came to Dr Wollaston's defence. She said the Tory MP "couldn't and shouldn't have done anything differently when someone told her they'd been raped".Suggest a correction