Former deputy speaker Nigel Evans told a jury on Monday of his "absolute hell" after being accused of a string of sex assaults. The MP's voice trembled with emotion as he spoke of his embarrassment and shock at being treated a suspect and having his private life laid bare for all to see.
Evans, 56, was asked by his defence barrister Peter Wright QC, what it was like as an MP after being arrested by police on serious charges and put in cells awaiting questioning. The MP said: "Awful. It's difficult to put into words, Wright. "It's hell. Absolute hell. I've had 10 months of these allegations starting with that knock on the door. To have yourself sullied in that way is awful. I could not do my job," he told Preston Crown Court.
Evans is on trial over allegations he sexually abused seven young men on various dates between 2002 and last year by using his "powerful" political influence to take advantage of them, often while drunk. The MP for Ribble Valley, Lancs, who was first arrested in May 2013, has pleaded not guilty to one rape, two indecent assaults, five sexual assaults and one attempted sexual assault.
Wright asked the MP how he felt about the public airing of details of his personal life, including having homosexual sex with a student. Evans said: "Nobody wants their private life brought up in this way. It's incredibly difficult."
The MP said he also felt, "embarrassed," that he had to tell police about being rebuffed after making a pass at a young man who now accuses him of sexual assault. Evans is now openly gay, but he kept it a secret for most of his life and he only came out in 2010 after his mother died, the court heard.
Wright said: "How did you feel about your sexuality being in the public forum in this way?" Evans said: "To have these allegations brought against you in such a public way is just awful. My colleagues were superb, my family and friends were absolutely tremendous, but at times I could not read the newspapers, it was that bad."
Wright asked Evans how he felt about being taken into custody. Evans said: "I felt ashamed, deeply ashamed. I have never gone through anything like that before in my life."
Wright continued: "How did you feel about sitting in a cell awaiting to be interviewed?" Evans said: "I just felt it was happening to somebody else, that's the only way I could get through it."
The defendant said as an MP you wanted to go through your career without even being accused of having six items in a five items or less queue at the supermarket. "At times I despair," he added.
Evans added: "To be accused of what I was accused of, it took it to a level that was awful." The MP went on to be asked about intimate details surrounding the rape allegations he faces. Evans maintains that sex with a man aged in his early 20s at his home in Pendleton last year was consensual.
While giving explicit details of what intercourse he said took place in the bedroom, the judge stepped in to halt the questioning by Evans's barrister. In the witness box a visibly upset Evans said: "Please accept I find this process incredibly difficult too." At that point, his friend, former Coronation Street actress Vicky Entwistle, was in tears in the public gallery.