UK

Nigel Evans Says George Osborne Was 'A Winner' In His Trial Because He Gets VAT On His Fees

14/04/2014 10:57 BST | Updated 14/04/2014 12:59 BST
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Nigel Evans has described chancellor George Osborne as "a winner" from his sexual offences trial because he gets to keep the VAT the former deputy speaker had to pay on his legal fees.

The coalition government has cut legal aid, reducing how much of their fees acquitted defendants can reclaim from public funds.

Mr Evans, who had to pay around £130,000 in fees to fight the allegations of which he was acquitted of on Thursday after a five-week trial, told Five Live: "Not only do you have to pay your fees, there's VAT on top. The legal team have my fees but George Osborne is actually a winner because I've had to pay VAT on top. You can't even get your VAT back. So there is a sense something needs to be done."

Mr Evans said he did not know he would not be able to get his money back until his lawyer explained it.

He said: "It was only when my solicitor said 'by the way Nigel, you know you're not going to get any of your costs back'. I said 'what do you mean?' He said 'well the law was changed. Now in these cases, you have to fund it yourself and you get none of it back'."

His QC told him the only thing he could claim for was the travel expenses for getting to the court every day, he said.

When asked whether he had changed his mind on legal aid cuts, Mr Evans said: "Absolutely. If the prosecution have got the top person they could possibly get then you have got to be able to defend yourself properly and that costs money."

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But when he was asked whether the cuts should be reversed, he said: "They need to be looked at. Money does need to be saved. We need to make sure that any savings or cuts that are made do not lead to miscarriages of justice."

Presenter Nicky Campbell suggested some of the coalition's policies were drawn up from "the ivory towers of Whitehall and Westminster" and asked Mr Evans if his experience had "moved you politically".

Mr Evans replied: "It's certainly moved me because I've lived through it. I now see the injustice in, certainly, what's happened to me. Once you've tasted it, you see things somewhat differently. It's only when you've tasted it yourself that you think 'my god we've got to be careful here'.

"I've got my voice back in parliament, there's a lot of people who go through this and don't have a voice. I've got a special position, I'll make sure I'll use it."

Nigel Evans court case