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Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans charged with sex offences
9:40pm Tuesday 10th September 2013 in News
RIBBLE Valley MP Nigel Evans was last night charged with rape and seven further sexual offences against seven young men.
The decision to prosecute the Commons deputy speaker came after he was questioned for more than 12 hours when he answered police bail yesterday.
As he left Preston police station he said: “I am going to robustly defend myself against all allegations. I shall stand down as deputy speaker and return to the backbenches where I will continue to fight on issues such as house building in the Ribble Valley.
“I expect to be acquitted of all charges and stand at the next election.”
Mr Evans had arrived at Preston Police Station at 9 am and was arrested for indecent assault and sexual touching of two alleged victims.
He will appear in court at Preston Magistrates Court a week today.
Mr Evans had previously been facing allegations of rape and sexual assault of two men, for which he was arrested on May 4, and three further indecent assault claims, for which he was arrested on June 19.
Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer personally announced the decision to prosecute the 55-year-old Tory MP at 9.30 pm last night.
He said: “Following an investigation by Lancashire police, the Crown Prosecution Service has received a file of evidence in the case of Mr Nigel Evans MP which concerns allegations of a sexual nature.
“After careful consideration, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute Mr Evans. Lancashire Constabulary has therefore been authorised to charge two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and one count of rape relating to a total of seven alleged victims.
“The decision in this case was taken by Joanne Cunliffe, an experienced specialist rape prosecutor, in consultation with John Dilworth, Head of the CPS North West Complex Casework Unit and in consultation with an external and highly experienced criminal QC.
“ I have also been consulted on this case. The decision has been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the CPS legal guidance on rape and sexual offences.
“Mr Evans will appear before Preston Magistrates’ Court on September 18 2013.
“Can I remind all concerned that criminal proceedings are now active. All defendants have the right to a fair trial and it is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice this trial.”
Mr Evans answered bail at Preston Police Station at 9 am and spent the rest of the day being quizzed by officers.
The latest incidents are alleged to have been committed in London between 2002 and 2009.
The 55-year-old was originally arrested by Lancashire Police on Saturday May 4 on suspicion of rape and sexual assault of two men.
The offences are said to have happened between July 2009 and March 2013.
He later described the experience as ‘the worst 24 hours of my life’.
On June 19, he answered bail to face three further indecent assault allegations, claimed to have occurred in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011.
Yesterday’s charges bring the total of sexual allegations being investigated to eight against seven men.
Elected as one of three Commons Deputy Speakers in 2010, he has stepped aside from his duties in that role since his arrest, but has continued to work as an MP.