Nigel Evans trial: Jury deliberates over Commons deputy speaker's sex offence charges

 

The jury in the trial of former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans has retired to consider its verdicts.

The 56-year-old MP is accused of committing various sexual offences against seven young men.

The Ribble Valley MP is said to have used his "powerful " political influence to take advantage of his alleged victims, often when he was in drink.

But his defence team has pointed to inconsistencies in various witness accounts and questioned the credibility of some of the evidence.

Evans has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults.

The rape complainant, aged 22, told the jury at Preston Crown Court that he was raped and sexually assaulted by Evans after a dinner party at the defendant's home in Pendleton, Lancashire, last Easter.

The gay MP said the sex was consensual.

In 2003, Evans was said to have indecently assaulted two men in their 20s when he approached them in public places while drunk and put his hand down their trousers - one in a Soho bar and the other at a hotel bar during the 2003 Tory Party conference in Blackpool.

The MP told the jury of seven men and five women that he had no recollection of either alleged event.

Another complainant said he was sexually assaulted by Evans while sleeping on the sofa at the MP's Lancashire home in July 2009.

Evans admitted he had made a pass but denied he had put his hand in the man's boxer shorts.

The MP is also accused of committing sexual offences against three other men while on the parliamentary estate.

One man said he had to push Evans away after the MP leant in to kiss him behind a curtain near the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons in 2009.

Another said Evans "cupped" his genitals in the same bar when first introduced to him in 2010 - an allegation Evans labelled "absurd" - and the third man said he had been pushed into a darkened kitchenette near the deputy speakers' office and was groped in 2011.

Evans told the court that all three men were lying.

He was a Conservative MP before he was elected as one of three deputy speaker in 2010, a politically neutral role.

He stepped down as a deputy speaker last September after he was charged with the offences involving the men who were all aged in their 20s at the time.

He has not returned to the Conservatives in the Commons and is representing his constituents as an independent.

The jury of seven men and five women was sent out to start its deliberations in the fifth week of the trial.

Mr Justice King told jurors to assess the evidence given by Evans in the same way as any other witness.

PA

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