Nigel Evans sex abuse trial: Tories ‘knew about senior MP’s gay sex assault, but kept it quiet before election’

Former Deputy Speaker and Tory MP goes on trial accused of offences including rape

The former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans was warned by senior Conservative Party figures including its then Chief Whip, Patrick McLoughlin, to modify his drinking and predatory sexual behaviour four years before he was charged with the alleged rape of a student, a court heard on Monday.

Mr Evans, 56, who is accused of sexually assaulting seven men, was described as a “very well-known and powerful individual” who would prey on young people with ambitions in politics.

Preston Crown Court heard the attacks happened at a variety of locations around the Palace of Westminster.

Although allegations were aired at the most senior levels of the Tory party, police were not called until the alleged rape of the student in March 2013 was drawn to the attention of the Speaker, John Bercow, who alerted detectives.

A year before the 2010 general election, Mr Evans was advised by Mr McLoughlin, now a minister for transport, to come out as gay, the court heard. This followed an alleged assault on a parliamentary aide who claimed the Tory grabbed hold of his penis as he slept at his home in Pendleton, Lancashire, which was also reported to Tory whip Michael Fabricant.

The alleged incident was also discussed with Iain Corby, Corby, managing director of the Policy Research Unit, Mr McLoughlin and his deputy John Randall. The jury was told that the timing was considered “unfortunate” because it was less than a year before a general election.

It was agreed that Mr Evans should not resign – despite the wishes of the alleged victim that he do so – but would seek help for his drinking and that he should “not put himself in situations which could be misconstrued”. He was then told that he should come out as gay, said Mark Heywood QC, for the prosecution.

Mr Evans was warned a second time about his behaviour, this time in 2010, by fellow MP Conor Burns around the time of the Speaker’s election. “It was suggested that he socialise with MPs and not with young people or researchers,” the court heard.

It was alleged that parliamentary aides and party workers were sexually abused over a period of 10 years. The alleged attacks took place at the Tory party conference, in a bar, corridor and office of the House of Commons as well as at Mr Evans’ Lancashire constituency home.

Opening its case at the start of the five-week trial, the prosecution said Mr Evans, who denies all the charges against him, was often drunk and would trade on his influence to press home his sexual attentions. “Part of his influence included the ability to make, or to break, the careers of young people who would be politicians or work for those who govern,” Mr Heywood said. His actions were “repeated over time, despite warnings”, he added.

It was alleged the first indecent assault occurred between 2002-03 and involved an openly gay 27-year-old man. At the time Mr Evans was shadow Welsh Secretary and it was claimed he put his hands down the trousers of the younger man in a Soho bar.

The second incident was said to have taken place in the early hours at the Number 10 bar of the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool during the 2003 Tory party conference. The alleged victim was drinking with a journalist friend when a “plastered” Mr Evans approached them and again put his hands down his trousers. The matter was reported to a member of the Conservative Party Board and Mr Evans was escorted to bed by Mr Burns, who later became an MP, and Nirj Deva MEP.

The matter was referred to Mark Hoban, then a junior whip. Although the party worker was “clearly upset and considered that he was a victim of a sexual assault”, he did not want the matter referred to the police or to become a disciplinary matter.

A third alleged attack occurred between 2009 and 2010 and involved a 21-year-old bisexual student who, it was claimed, was confronted by Mr Evans in a corridor outside the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons. He was beckoned behind a curtain where the older man tried to kiss him. No further complaint was made.

The jury also heard that in the summer of 2009 a young man, who had initially contacted Mr Evans on Facebook while he was a student studying politics, accompanied the MP to his constituency home. On the second night of his stay he had been with Mr Evans and an aide at his local pub before returning to his home with a group of others. During the night it is alleged that Mr Evans fondled the young man as he slept under a blanket on the sofa. He pushed him away and the MP apologised. The matter was later referred to Mr McLoughlin, then the Tory Chief Whip – described by the prosecution as “the man in charge” – the court heard.

A fifth alleged victim claimed he was sexually assaulted shortly after the general election after drinking in a bar at the Commons. It was around the time Mr Evans was fighting his successful campaign to become Deputy Speaker and he was part of a group of MPs drinking.

Mr Heywood said: “Suddenly without warning, invitation or cause the defendant reached out with his right hand and physically cupped [his] genitals through his clothing,” he said. “The defendant did not seem to react and just carried on as if nothing had happened,” he added.

The sixth sexual assault was alleged to have occurred in 2011 in Mr Evans’ speaker’s office where he had a small bedroom. The alleged victim and a number of MPs were present. The younger man was lured by “a ruse” to a kitchenette where, Mr Heywood said, he grabbed his hand and forced it on to his erect penis.

The final incident involved a student who had first met Mr Evans when he was aged 15. He was invited in 2013 to dinner with other guests at Mr Evans’ constituency home. When the others left it is alleged he was groped by the MP, who then followed him upstairs and guided him into his bedroom.

There, it was claimed, he tried to kiss and fondle the younger man, who repeatedly tried to move and brush his hand away. The prosecution said he feared confrontation and locked himself in the toilet where he sent a series of text messages to another of Mr Evans’ alleged victims.

One said: “Help me.” Another said: “Nigel has tried to stick his tongue down my throat three times,” while the other said “100 per cent penis grabbing”. Later in the night he awoke to find Mr Evans astride his back. The younger man “froze in shock” and he was raped, the court heard.

“Mr Evans was not aggressive or particularly forceful,” Mr Heywood claimed, adding that he had been wearing a condom. He then allegedly tried to force him into performing oral sex. “I’m really, really tired and you have church,” he is alleged to have told the older man.

The trial continues.

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