One of the seven young men who were alleged to have been abused by Nigel Evans has called for an overhaul of Westminster’s late-night drinking culture to prevent MPs “crossing the line”.
The former Tory party activist, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave evidence in the trial of the former Commons Deputy Speaker despite insisting he did not consider himself to be a victim of crime.
The prosecution alleged he was indecently assaulted when he was groped by the Ribble Valley MP at a party conference in Blackpool in 2003. Mr Evans was today cleared of all charges against him.
The man said there were too many young people hanging around the House of Commons late at night. “The whole way that MPs are employed and their staff are employed needs to be looked at. They need to look at the whole culture. Twenty years ago you had 600 MPs and 400 assistants. Now they have at least three members of staff to each MP. You go into Parliament and you are surrounded by twentysomething researchers straight out of university,” he told The Independent.
“Maybe there needs to be a curfew of people other than MPs and lobby correspondents who need to be out of the building by 9pm,” he added.
“If you were very generous you would say one in 20 people cross the line when they have had a few drinks. MPs are working away from home for three or four days at a time and their family situations can be horrific. You add to that the late nights, the drinks, the general sense of power and you can easily see a lot of people crossing over that line,” he said.
The married man, who is still a member of the Conservative Party and harbours political ambitions, described the “gossipy” atmosphere around the time of the incident at the Blackpool’s Imperial Hotel under the leadership of Iain Duncan Smith when the Tories had lost two elections in a row and were flat-lining in the opinion polls. He said Mr Evans had a reputation for being a “bit touchy-feely”.
During the trial the prosecution claimed a “plastered” Mr Evans approached the man who was chatting with a journalist friend and others and twice attempted to put his hand down the younger man’s trousers before being ejected by party colleagues.
Following the incident the two had met a couple of times and discussed party policy during which Mr Evans seemed “more comfortable in his own skin”, he added.
The man said he was contacted by police after Mr Evan’s was arrested in 2013. “Two weeks later the police knocked on my door and confirmed who I was. They said two different people had given my name as someone they should speak to in relation to something that happened at a party conference. I said I would talk to police but I would not make a formal complaint. I said he should not be charged with any crime,” he said.
However the man said he was prepared to give a statement because of the potential serious nature of the other charges which included rape and sexual assault.
“I understand why the police and the Crown Prosecution Service are able to proceed against the wishes of the victim. I realise that is necessary to do that [sometimes] to protect people in domestic abuse situations. I respect their need to build a case and to bring whatever happened to me into the case and to make it a count,” he added.
But the man said he did not feel that he had been left scarred by the incident in any way. “If [Mr Evans] had worked for a private company somebody would have taken him aside to say, ‘Look mate sort out your drinking’. If it was a really nice private company they might have paid for him to go into treatment,” he added.
“Unfortunately for politicians there are no second chances,” he said.Reuse content