Conservative MP, Nigel Evans, arrested on suspicion of raping man

Deputy speaker, 55, is also accused of sexually assaulting a second male

The Conservative MP and deputy speaker of the Commons, Nigel Evans, was arrested yesterday at his cottage in Lancashire on suspicion of rape and sexual assault. Forensic teams searched the property, in the village of Pendleton, and Mr Evans was then questioned at Preston police station before being released on bail.

The 55-year-old MP, who came out as gay in 2010, is accused of raping a man and sexually assaulting a second man between July 2009 and March this year. The attacks are alleged to have taken place against men in their 20s. He has represented the safe Conservative seat of Ribble Valley for 21 years. Both the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, were immediately informed of Mr Evans's arrest.

The MP, who also has a home in east London, was born in Swansea, the son of a newsagent, and has held a variety of government posts in the course of his career. He was a parliamentary private secretary to several senior ministers in John Major's government, including employment secretary David Hunt, and William Hague. He has since held a series of senior roles in the party, including vice-chairman in 2004. He is a noted global-warming sceptic, and has been a consistent opponent of the minimum wage.

Councillor Terry Hill, deputy chairman of the Ribble Valley Conservative Association, said: "I have just heard the news. I am in complete and utter shock.

"People are innocent until proven guilty, but I'm sure that discussions will take place pretty quickly to decide what reaction [the association] gives."

Brian Binley, Tory MP for Northampton South, said: "I know him to be caring, compassionate and in no way would he inflict himself violently on any other person. I just hope and pray that this thing is cleared up sooner rather than later."

Mr Evans came out as a gay in 2010 in an interview with The Mail on Sunday, saying that he was "tired of living a lie". The MP said he had been persuaded to go public after a conversation at a party with the Coronation Street actress Vicky Entwistle, who lives in his Lancashire constituency. "Vicky and I went for a drink after the party and she said to me, 'You're gay, aren't you?' It's a subject I avoid usually but Vicky is very natural and I told her I was," he said. "I thought to myself, 'I am now telling people I am gay – it's time I did something about it and told everyone.'"

Mr Evans said he had been inspired by the rugby union player Gareth Thomas, a fellow Welshman, who had come out a few months previously. "If people like Gareth, who was married, can come out, it should be no big deal for me," he said. Mr Evans claims that he had been challenged by an unnamed Labour MP to go public with his sexuality, reportedly with the threat that he would be exposed otherwise, before coming out.

The MP's parents ran a corner shop on a council estate in Swansea, South Wales, while he was growing up. Mr Evans joined the Conservative Party aged 17 and served as a local councillor in West Glamorgan. He had lost elections in Swansea West and Pontypridd before taking on his current constituency of Ribble Valley. He lost a by-election there in 1991 but won the seat from the Lib Dems the following year at the general election. He has held the seat comfortably since, and at the last general election increased his majority.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: "We take all allegations of a sexual nature extremely seriously and understand how difficult it can be for alleged victims to have the confidence to come forward."

Mr Evans has been bailed to return before police on 19 June.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn