A former Tory Chief Whip told the victim of an alleged sexual assault by Nigel Evans MP that it would be “a really big ask” to make the MP stand down over the claim,
The Transport minister, Patrick McLoughlin, told Preston Crown Court that he believed an alleged sexual assault against a younger man had been a “misunderstanding” and little more than a “drunken pass”.
The incident, which is claimed to have happened at Mr Evans’ constituency home in 2009 before he was elected to the position of Commons Deputy Speaker, was discussed by senior party figures.
Mr McLoughlin said a meeting took place in his Commons office on 6 July 2009. It was attended by the complainant, John Randall MP, the Assistant Chief Whip and Iain Corby, managing director of the Policy Research Unit.
But Mr McLoughlin told the jury that he considered asking his colleague to give up his Parliamentary career as a “huge demand given the nature of the complaint”.
He said: “He [the complainant] had been drinking, Nigel had been drinking and said an incident had taken place. I don’t remember him going into exact details of what the incident was, although he may have done. I asked him what he wanted and he said that he wanted Nigel to not stand at the next general election.
“I remember saying that was a really big ask considering what he had said to me but we need to see where things went. He did seem to change his mind at some stage, he wanted Nigel to apologise and he would regard that as sufficient.”
Mr McLoughlin said his fellow Tory had been apologetic and said things had “got out of hand” when he later spoke to him. He said he warned Mr Evans about his drinking and suggested he should come out about his homosexuality.
“I recall saying to Nigel, I think you should make a public statement about being gay, but that was a matter for Nigel to take himself,” he said. The former chief whip, who was responsible for party discipline, also suggested that the defendant – one of seven younger men Mr Evans is alleged to have assaulted – should go to the police if he wished.
Mr Evans, 56, who was watched from the gallery by his friend, former Coronation Street actress Vicky Entwistle, denies all charges against him. The case continues.