MP Nigel Evans in court over sexual assault charges

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

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The Independent Online

MP Nigel Evans made his first court appearance today over accusations of committing sex offences against seven men.

The former House of Commons Deputy Speaker is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape.

In a hearing at Preston Magistrates' Court, District Judge Jane Goodwin adjourned the case until October 4 when Mr Evans will appear for a preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court.

The alleged offences span a period of a decade and are said to have taken place in London and Lancashire. The MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire has protested his innocence and pledged to "see this through to the end".

Mr Evans, 55, was granted bail on condition he does not approach directly or indirectly named witnesses.

Mr Evans vowed to clear his name in an emotional personal statement last week at the House of Commons. Confirming his resignation as the House of Commons Deputy Speaker, after he was charged on September 10, 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.

“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.”