Nigel Evans calls for review of anonymity rules in sexual assault cases

The calls come in the wake of a sexual scandal that saw Mr Evans facing personal and financial ruin

The Former Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans is to launch a campaign to shake-up anonymity rules in sexual assault cases to protect the reputations of celebrities facing false charges against them.

Mr Evans was last week cleared of carrying out a series of attacks, including rape, on young men following a five-week trial at Preston Crown Court.

In his first interview since being acquitted Mr Evans called for a review of anonymity rules that allowed his seven male accusers to keep their identities secret while he has been reduced to personal and financial ruin.

He also said there should be time limits imposed on historical sexual abuse cases and an end to the “bundling” of smaller charges together with more serious allegations to make a stronger case.

Mr Evans’ interview came as it emerged that senior Conservative Party figures had been warned up to three years ago about an unhealthy culture of drinking and inappropriate behaviour amongst some researchers working indirectly for the party in Westminster.

On Saturday The Independent revealed taxpayers indirectly funding a hotel room used for a gay sex party by members of the Policy Research Unit at a Conservative Party Conference.

After that event the then Conservative Minister Michael Fabricant raised his concerns about the PRU with the MP in charge of the unit but claims he was ignored.

The revelation is likely to increase pressure on the party to implement a truly independent form of grievance procedure for party staff working for MPs – which is stronger than the voluntary code announced so far.

In his interview with the Mail on Sunday Mr Evans said he did not think the court system had got the balance right between the accused and the accusers.

“It is always said that no one should get special treatment in these cases. But the fact is that people in the public limelight are getting special treatment – the wrong type,” he said. 

“People in the limelight have been made victims.”

Mr Evans said his battle to clear his name has cost him his entire £130,000 life savings adding that he thought the CPS should reimburse him.

“If someone is dragged through the courts through no fault of their own and is acquitted they should get their legal fees back from the CPS budget.

“Maybe that will make them focus on whether a case is worth pursuing.”

Mr Evans added that the rules granting anonymity to people who claim they are the victims of sex crimes was unfair and needed to be reviewed.

“I feel cheated by the fact that if my seven accusers and I walked down the street none of them would be recognised but I would be because I was the only one who was named,” he said. 

“And I have been cleared while their allegations have been shown to be false.”

Mr Evans launched a scathing attack on former Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, who has defended the CPS prosecution of a number of famous names. 

“It’s all very well for Keir Starmer to say allegations are made, the police investigate, the CPS decides whether to prosecute and a jury decides. It sounds like a walk in the park. 

“It’s great for him to focus on victims. But they have created a new set of victims, which Keir Starmer has not addressed. 

“The victims are those accused of sex assaults like rape when they haven’t done it. This imbalance needs to be addressed urgently.”

And he called for the practice of trying to build a case against an accused using ‘bundling’, based on a number of weaker claims, to stop. 

“The police look for similarities, it is all they care about.”

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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