Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, “sighed and huffed and blew” when confronted with claims that the Tory MP Nigel Evans had sexually molested a young man in 2009, a court has heard.
Giving evidence at Mr Evans’s trial for a series of alleged sex attacks, the man said he had demanded that Mr McLoughlin, then Chief Whip, force Mr Evans to resign his seat.
Mr McLoughlin appeared “irritated” and told him that “it can’t be done” before the 2010 election because it would be too difficult to explain to the public as Mr Evans had no immediate family to euphemistically “spend more time with”, the witness claimed.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also said he told Mr McLoughlin that Mr Evans was a “high-functioning alcoholic”.
The 56-year-old MP is on trial over claims that he used his “powerful” political influence to take sexual advantage of seven young men – often while drunk. He denies one rape, two indecent assaults and six sexual assaults said to have taken place between 2002 and last year.
It is alleged he had the “ability to make or break” careers and assaulted the alleged victims in his home, in House of Commons bars and in his Westminster office.
Mr Evans is accused of molesting the young man at the MP’s house in Pendleton, Lancashire, by putting his hand inside the man’s boxer shorts while he slept on a sofa in July 2009.
The man said he told Mr McLoughlin, John Randall MP and Iain Corby, a Tory policy researcher, about the incident at a meeting two days later.
“Mr McLoughlin’s reaction was one of mainly irritation, he sighed and huffed and blew the whole time,” he said.
“He said: ‘So what do you want to happen now?’ [I responded] that I thought Mr Evans should resign from his seat as MP for Ribble Valley. I believe I said immediately.
“Mr McLoughlin said: ‘It can’t be done. The timing is not right. I would find it very difficult to explain why an MP is leaving his seat at this point before a general election. He has no immediate family that we can pass it off on.’?”
Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, asked: “Pass it off on? Wants to spend more time with his family?” The witness replied: “Exactly.”
Mr Randall had asked what the “issues” were with Mr Evans. The witness continued: “I said that alcohol was a massive problem. He was a high-functioning alcoholic. He was drinking every day.”
The man also said Mr Evans had a “massive issue with his own sexuality” as the MP at that point had not publicly come out as being gay, though it was an “open secret” in Westminster.
He told the court that the matter was resolved after it was agreed in the meeting that Mr Evans would be “heavily sanctioned” by the whips and would get counselling.
Mark Formosa, a former Tory councillor, told the court of an earlier incident of alleged indecent assault by Mr Evans, at the 2003 Conservative Party conference. Mr Formosa said he was in a bar at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool at 2am when he saw “a younger man thrashing around very violently from side to side trying to wrench himself free from Mr Evans’ grip”.
“Mr Evans had his hand down the front of his trousers and was maintaining his grip,” he said. “I intervened along with several others in order to assist the younger man to get Mr Evans off him.”
But Peter Wright QC, defending Mr Evans, suggested that Mr Formosa was not telling the truth in his account of the incident, saying it was a “fabrication”.
The trial continues.