POLITICS
11/09/2013 09:45 BST | Updated 11/09/2013 09:50 BST

Nigel Evans Makes Emotional Statement To MPs As He Stands Down As Deputy Speaker To Face Sex Charges

PA
Nigel Evans makes emotional statement

MP Nigel Evans has defiantly protested his innocence in the face of sex abuse charges in an emotional speech to the House of Commons.

The member for Ribble Valley announced he was standing down as Deputy Speaker and would not seek to be admitted to Tory ranks until the end of the proceedings.

He has been charged with a series of sex offences against seven men.

Evans was cheered by MPs as he pledged to "see this through to the end".

The 55-year-old made a personal statement in the House of Commons, claiming that facing the allegations was as hard as dealing with the deaths of his mother and brother in the past few years.

At one point he looked up to journalists in the Press Gallery, thanking some for their support, saying: "You know who you are."

He resigned as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons after the charges of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape were confirmed by prosecutors on Tuesday night, and will stand as an independent MP for his Ribble Valley constituency in Lancashire.

Evans told MPs: "This is clearly the most painful thing I have endured in my life alongside the loss of my mother in 2009 and the loss of my brother earlier this year.

"Winston Churchill said when you are going through hell, keep going. Sage advice. And so I will see this through to the end with the support of the people that mean so much to me."

He said his family and friends have continued to support him through the allegations, and that he remains hopeful.

"I now have the opportunity to robustly defend my innocence and seek acquittal," he said.

"Since these allegations, I have not been able to fully fulfil my duties in the chair, which left me in a land of limbo.

"None of us were elected to the fine office of Member of Parliament to be put in that invidious position, unable to fully fulfil the reason why we were sent here."

The politician has denied any wrongdoing since his first arrest in May - he was re-arrested in June and again yesterday on suspicion of further allegations.

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 and April 1 2013.

Evans will appear before magistrates in Preston on September 18.