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.

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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.