Nigel Evans not guilty: Conservative Party to rein in boozy, promiscuous world of Westminster with new code of conduct for MPs

Code follows revelations about culture of excess in wake of Nigel Evans trial

Conservative MPs are to be issued with a code of conduct setting out how to treat staff in the wake of the Nigel Evans trial.

The former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons was unanimously cleared yesterday by a jury of a string of sex assaults, following a five-week trial.

The code was held back to ensure there was no risk of prejudicing the trial at Preston Crown Court.

The party said the voluntary code was “a basic statement of what should be best practice in the workplace” for Tory MPs and their staff.

It is being circulated alongside a grievance procedure, which is available for staff to use if a grievance arises with an MP as their employer.

Its release came as the Independent disclosed that a drink-fuelled and promiscuous Westminster culture allowed a small group of Tory MPs to make unwanted  sexual advances on young male parliamentary staff.

The jury accepted Mr Evans's defence that his behaviour had been the “high watermark of over-friendly, inappropriate behaviour by a drunken man” but did not amount to any criminal offence.

Now it can be reported that other, mainly Conservative, MPs regularly got drunk, “flirted” and made passes at young male parliamentary workers during Commons drinking sessions.

One researcher described how he was approached to “go to the Gents” with an MP at an event for young political activists while another said he had been subject to unwelcome advances after an MP invited his entire office staff to a gay bar.

One of the witnesses in the Evans case told The Independent that while he did not see himself the victim of a criminal act there should be a “curfew” in parliamentary bars to make it more difficult for inappropriate behaviour to take place.

“MPs are working away from home for three or four days at a time. You add to that the late nights, the drinks, the general sense of power and you can easily see a lot of people crossing over that line,” he said.

Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, arrives at Preston Crown Court Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, arrives at Preston Crown Court Another parliamentary worker in his 20s at the time describes in The Independent how a group of mainly Tory MPs would regularly go drinking with staff in the building - which could lead to compromising situations.

“There would be quite senior MPs very drunk - flirting with us and sometimes more,” he writes. “No one batted an eyelid. The day after it was always one of those things people would gossip about - they would shudder and say 'Did you see what happened last night?'”

The man said that it was not solely the case of the MPs taking advantage of younger staff.  “I think there was complicity on both sides.”

Tonight the Conservative Party said it would ask all its MPs to sign up to a new code of conduct setting out their rights and responsibilities as employers. There will also be a new party grievance procedure for staff.

But the scale of the problem was underlined by research by Channel 4 News which spoke to 70 people from all political parties and sexual orientations working in Parliament.

Forty per cent of the men questioned said they had received unwanted sexual advances while a third of those interviewed had personally experienced sexual harassment which they saw as an abuse of power.

One said: “At an event for young political activists I was asked to go to the gents by a certain MP who had always been a nice guy. I just brushed it off. The MP suggested I go to the toilets with him at about 1am, but at 3am I saw him going back to his hotel room with a guy who looked about 18.”

Mr Evans, 56, wept in the dock of Preston Crown Court after he was cleared of nine charges, including rape, by the jury. In a statement on the steps of the court the former Deputy Speaker spoke of his “dark and lonely” time going through “hell” as an accused man. “As many of you know I've gone through 11 months of hell,” he said. “All I can say is that after [all] that nothing will ever be the same again.”

Read more: Tory MPs made passes at younger colleagues
Questions raised over high-profile 'witch-hunt' by police
Nigel Evans: MP who was warned over friendships

Mr Evans was found not guilty of one count of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults.

The verdicts have led to questions being raised about the approach of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to sex cases.

The former shadow Home Secretary David Davis called for the practice of using lesser charges to “reinforce” a more serious one to be looked at.

“This case has highlighted serious concerns over how the police and the CPS bring sexual offence cases to court,” he said. “In particular we must now review the process whereby the police and the CPS put together a large number of lesser, subsidiary cases in order to reinforce one serious case when prosecuting sexual offences.”

But Lancashire Police and the CPS defended their handling of the case.

In a statement, the CPS said: “The complainants in this case provided clear accounts of the alleged offending and it was right that all of the evidence was put before a jury.

”That evidence could only be fully explored during a trial and the jury has decided, after hearing all of the evidence, that the prosecution has not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. We respect this decision.“

Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley, Lancashire Police's head of public protection, said: ”We have worked closely with the CPS from an early stage, and all of the evidence was subjected to careful scrutiny before a decision was taken to charge, particularly where complainants did not see themselves as victims.

“Only after that very careful consideration was the decision made to put this before a jury.”

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel