Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Up close and personal: Evans’ resignation speech was tough on everyone

Even crusty journalists have displayed a heart which I have never before witnessed

Share
Related Topics

It doesn’t get more touchy-feely than this. On Tuesday night the Tory MP Nigel Evans explained briefly outside Preston police station that he was standing down as Deputy Speaker after being charged with sexual offences against seven men, including one of rape, all of which he strenuously denies. But today came the long version, painfully long in fact, since four minutes can seem like an hour when the intimately private becomes so public. Rarely can an MP have made a personal Commons statement which more excruciatingly lived up to its name.

Because it came straight after Prime Minister’s Questions, the entire government and opposition front benches were frozen in their seats as Evans described how the allegations had left him in a “land of limbo”, unable to “fulfil my duties in the chair”. The charges were “clearly the most painful thing I have endured in my life alongside the loss of my mother in 2009 and the loss of my brother earlier this year.”

The Speaker, John Bercow, who granted Evans’ request to make the statement, said he was “warmly grateful” for the MP’s “exemplary” service as a deputy. But at times it seemed more like a farewell from someone retiring through ill health than from an MP about “to robustly defend my innocence and seek acquittal” in a criminal trial. Invoking Winston Churchill’s “sage advice” – “when you are going through hell, keep going” – he added: “I will see this through to the end, with the support of the people who mean so much to me.”

Verging on the mawkish, Evans described how it had been “one of the happiest days of my life” when he had been elected in 2010 as a deputy Speaker. When he told a fellow Deputy, Labour’s Dawn Primarolo, on Saturday that he was resigning “I even got a hug from her. Thank you Dawn.” In one toe-curling moment – and after thanking all others who had offered “hugs, prayers and good wishes” since his original arrest in May, “my family particularly, and my [constituency] association who have been marvellous” – he declared: “Even seasoned, crusty journalists have displayed a heart which I have never before witnessed.” Looking up at the press gallery, he added: “You know who you are.”

Evans is popular among his peers, and most no doubt fervently hope that he will clear his name. Nor does his statement remotely affect the outcome. Whether he enhanced his reputation for parliamentary judgement by making it is another matter.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Copywriter - Corporate clients - Wimbledon

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Business Studies Tutor / Assessor / Lecturer - Tollerton

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tiger skin seized from a smuggler by customs officers in Lhasa, Tibet  

Save the tiger: Poaching facts

Harvey Day
 

Save the tiger: 7 saddening facts about the extinction of Javan tigers

Harvey Day
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried