Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evan's duties put on hold during police investigation

 

Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans will not resume chairing duties in the chamber while police investigations continue into allegations of rape and sexual assault, a Commons spokesman said today.

Mr Evans, who was arrested on May 4, had said he would only be away from his duties for a few days during the Queen's Speech debates, which are due to conclude on Wednesday.

But a House of Commons spokesman said today: "The Speaker (John Bercow) and Mr Evans, First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, met on Tuesday 7 May and agreed that while Mr Evans will remain Deputy Speaker, he will not resume chairing duties while police investigations are ongoing.

"The Chairman of Ways and Means (Lindsay Hoyle) and Second Deputy Chairman (Dawn Primarolo) also support this approach."

Speaking to reporters in Westminster on May 7, Mr Evans said he was having "just a few days off chair duty" but would continue having his regular meetings with Mr Bercow.

He said he had been "overwhelmed" by the reaction from MPs as well as the amount of "sympathy" he had received from the public.

"I've been in work since half past seven this morning getting on with looking at many of the emails that have come in, not just from constituents but from throughout the world, giving me support and sympathy for what I'm alleged to have done," he said.

In an earlier statement on May 5, Mr Evans denied the claims made against him.

The 55-year-old MP for Ribble Valley said he had been interviewed by police concerning two complaints "made by two people who are well known to each other and, until Saturday, I regarded as friends".

He added: "The complaints are completely false and I cannot understand why they have been made, especially as I have continued to socialise with one as recently as last week."

Lancashire Police said Mr Evans, who has represented the constituency since 1992, had been arrested on suspicion of raping one man and sexually assaulting another between July 2009 and March 2013.

Following several hours of questioning by detectives at Preston Police Station, he was released on bail until June 19.

Mr Evans was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was "tired of living a lie".

He told The Mail on Sunday that he had also been threatened with exposure by political opponents.

PA