Nigel Evans spoke yesterday of his “trauma” of facing allegations of rape and disclosed a former ITV Coronation Street star had helped him escape the “media circus” that followed his arrest.
The Commons Deputy Speaker repeated his vehement denial of the accusations by two men and insisted he would fight to clear his name. Mr Evans was arrested on Saturday by police investigating claims he raped one man and sexually assaulted another between 2009 and March this year.
In his fullest comment since his release on bail after 15 hours of questioning, he said was “shell-shocked” and “absolutely staggered” to find four detectives at the door of his home in Pendleton, Lancashire.
“They read me my rights and were incredibly pleasant and sympathetic. They gave me the time to make myself a cup of tea and something to eat if I wanted to. I didn’t get myself anything to eat, I’d just been arrested, so I thought I’d let that go.
“It felt surreal and indeed for the next several hours I was rather hoping I would wake up and be somewhere else, back in bed, perhaps.”
He and a group of friends spent the two nights after his release at the secluded home of the former Coronation Street actress, Vicky Entwistle, in nearby Bolton-by-Bowland. She is a long-standing friend who helped the Conservative MP to make the decision to come out as gay three years ago.
Mr Evans said: “You do need a bit of sanctuary. It gave us enough time to work, to contemplate and to think a bit more about where we are and what we need to do next.
“It’s not business as normal now, but I wanted to make it clear that business is as normal as it can be.”
He said: “No one in politics wants to see themselves confronted with allegations like this. I’ve spent 21 years building my career, but nothing prepares you for the trauma of this situation.
“I am determined not to let these allegations destroy either me or my career. What doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger. I’m trying to make sure in my own mind I’m on that side.”
Mr Evans, who returned to London on Monday, has made clear he is determined to remain as Deputy Speaker and the MP for Ribble Valley. He will not, however, chair any of the Commons debates that will follow tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech. He insisted he would attend the event, explaining: “If there’s room in the Lords I’ll stay and listen. Otherwise I’ll watch it on TV.”
The 55-year-old MP also revealed the cause of a mysterious “scar” on his forehead when he appeared before cameras on Sunday. He said the “painful” bruise developed on Thursday after a Reiki massage in London’s Chinatown to combat migraine. “I had a massage of my head and shoulders to relieve the stress that had caused the migraine and as the chap came to finish his fingers dug into my forehead.”
Mr Evans said he had received more than 1,000 goodwill text and Facebook messages since his arrest which had “really buoyed me up”.
The former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell told Radio 4’s Today programme: “If he were to resign now we would be in a terrible position where every public office holder would be open to blackmail and false stories in the media, triggering their resignation.” Mr Mitchell, 57, stepped down last October following allegations – which he strongly denies – that he called Downing Street police officers “plebs”.