JURORS in Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans' trial for rape and other sexual offences were due to return to Preston Crown Court today to continue considering their verdicts.
Mr Justice Timothy King sent them out yesterday afternoon to decide whether the 56-year-old was innocent or guilty of nine charges concerning seven men after completing a summing of the evidence lasting nearly two days.
They had not reached a unanimous verdict when the judge sent them home and asked them to return and resume their deliberations at 10am today.
Evans has pleaded not guilty to one count of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults.
The judge said the alleged rape and sexual assaults at the defendant's Ribble Valley home were ‘the critical charges’.
Former Commons deputy speaker Evans is alleged to have committed the offences in Parliament, at a Tory conference, his home in Pendleton, and a London bar. The charges include allegedly groping a man on his constituency house sofa and committing two sexual assaults, and a rape against a man in the bedroom of that home.
The prosecution alleged during the trial that Evans used his political position to prey on young men, often when he had been drinking.
Evans told the jury of seven men and five women the sexual activity in the alleged rape was consensual and the other alleged assault in Pendleton was a 'drunken misunderstanding'.
He had no recollection of several of the other alleged assaults.
His defence team has pointed to inconsistencies in various witness accounts and questioned their credibility.