'I refute all allegations': Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans arrested after three further indecent assault allegations

Latest allegations involve men in 20s and are said to have occurred in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons said he would continue to assist police as he was arrested in connection with fresh allegations of indecently assaulting young men.

Nigel Evans denied any wrongdoing after he spent a further day being questioned by detectives in connection with historic sex abuse claims.

The Tory MP for Ribble Valley was re-arrested on suspicion of three counts of indecent assault as he answered police bail as part of an inquiry into alleged rape and sexual assault.

Speaking outside Preston police station, Mr Evans, 55, said he was innocent. "Clearly we want closure of this as soon as possible and I carry on assisting this inquiry fully and openly.

"I continue to refute all allegations, and in the meantime can I say that I'm extremely grateful for the huge amount of support and love that I have received from my family, my friends and my constituents, and indeed people throughout the country who have contacted me."

He was released on bail until 10 September pending further inquiries.

The latest allegations involve men in their 20s and are said to have occurred in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011.

Mr Evans was originally arrested in May over offences alleged to have happened in Pendleton between July 2009 and March 2013.  He subsequently stood down from his Commons duties for the duration of the police investigation but has continued working as an MP.

Detectives from Lancashire police searched Mr Evans’ Parliamentary office after obtaining a warrant from Preston Crown Court in May. The search was approved by the Speaker John Bercow who took advice from the Attorney General before telling MPs of his decision to allow it to go ahead.

Speaking after his first arrest Mr Evans said the complaints against him had been made by two people who were known to each other and who he had hitherto regarded as friends.

 "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," he told reporters.

Mr Evans, who has represented the Lancashire constituency since 1992, was one of three MPs elected deputy speaker in a secret ballot in 2010. He is a former vice chairman of the Conservative Party and was shadow Welsh Secretary under Iain Duncan Smith.

Three years ago he came out as gay in an interview with a Sunday newspaper in which he said he had revealed his true sexuality because he feared it could be used “as leverage against me”.

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

"As a constabulary, we are committed to investigating sexual offences sensitively but robustly recognising the impact that these types of crimes have on victims.

"We would encourage anyone who has experienced sexual abuse, or who has information about it, to have the confidence to report it to us knowing that we will take it seriously, deal with it sensitively and investigate it thoroughly."