'I will see this through to the end': MP Nigel Evans protests his innocence over rape and sex charges

Alleged offences span a period of a decade and are said to have taken place in London and Lancashire

Deputy Political Editor

Nigel Evans told MPs today he was “going through hell” and vowed he would fight to clear his name after he was charged with a string of sex offences.

Confirming he was stepping down as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, he said that facing the allegations was as difficult as coping with the deaths of his mother and brother.

In an emotional personal statement protesting his innocence, Mr Evans said he would continue to sit as an independent MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire.

Mr Evans faces two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape. The offences are said to have taken place between 2003 and this year in London and Lancashire. He denies all the charges.

He 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.”

Mr Evans, who has not sat as Deputy Speaker since his initial arrest in May, 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.”

He added: “I now have the opportunity to robustly defend my innocence and seek acquittal.”

John Bercow, the Speaker, told the Commons he had accepted Mr Evans' resignation “with sadness”.

He said: “I have received his resignation with sadness. I wish to thank Nigel for his three years of service to the House as Deputy Speaker, in which he has proved to be highly competent, fair and good-humoured.

“He has been a loyal and valued member of the team of deputy speakers who assist me in chairing our proceedings. I am warmly grateful to him.”

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