Nigel Evans found not guilty in Preston rape and sex assault trial

MP and former deputy speaker cleared on all nine charges of rape and sexual assault

The former deputy speaker of the House of Commons has been cleared of rape and sexual assault against seven men.

The jury at Preston Crown Court found Nigel Evans, 56, not guilty on all nine charges at the end of a five week trial in which it had been claimed the powerful MP abused his position to carry out drunken attacks dating back to 2003.

Three of the incidents were alleged to have occurred in bars and corridors in Parliament. He is the latest public figure to be found not guilty following a long investigation into historic sexual abuse allegations by police in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Mr Evans claimed that he had had consensual sex with a 22-year-old student at his constituency home in 2013 and that the younger man later regretted sleeping with him and had gone to the police.

The man’s allegations prompted Lancashire Police to speak to dozens of witnesses eventually bringing charges in relation to seven men who were all in their 20s at the time the alleged incidents which dated back a decade earlier.

Profile: MP who rose to the top – despite warnings over friendships with young colleagues

However, in evidence two of the men said they did not consider themselves to be the victims of a criminal indecent assault. The prosecution alleged the former front bench spokesman had put his hand down one of the men’s trousers whilst drinking at a Soho bar. A second similar incident was alleged to have occurred in a late night bar during the Tory party conference in Blackpool.

In evidence the senior Tory claimed to have been the victim of a conspiracy organised by another of the alleged victims, a young Westminster worker, who he had considered to be a friend but who was known to five of the complainants.

The man had claimed he was intimately touched by Mr Evans whilst also staying over at his cottage in Pendleton, Lancashire in 2009 resulting in a meeting with the then chief whip Patrick McLoughlin, now Transport Secretary, and a number of other senior party figures.

At the meeting it was decided Mr Evans, who came out as gay in 2010, should not stand down but apologise. He was told to cut down on his drinking and stop socialising with younger people in and around Westminster. 

The matter was eventually brought to the attention of Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, a qualified GP who had previously worked with victims of sexual and domestic violence.

She told the court she was frustrated when Speaker John Bercow said he had been advised he could not discuss the matter after taking legal advice.

Mr Bercow said he urged the victims to go the police.

The defence said that other charges were either the result of “drunken overfamiliarity”, the misreading of signals or simply did not happen. Mr Evans resigned his position as one of three deputy speakers following his arrest last year. He has not returned to the Conservatives in the Commons and is representing his constituents as an independent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all