NIGEL Evans has spoken for the first time about his desire to settle down and marry.
The openly gay Ribble Valley MP said he had conducted an ‘open relationship’ with a ‘special person’ in London for seven years, covering the period of the most serious of the alleged offences.
Mr Evans said the 33-year-old man had been ‘very supportive’ during his 11 months of hell since being charged with the rape of a 22-year-old man last Easter.
He said: “I would love to have a serious, committed and special relationship with another man.
“What we all want is a loving relationship. I would like to have gay marriage.”
The 56-year-old MP made it clear he intends to fight the Ribble Valley for the Tories at next year’s general election and win it.
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He admitted his behaviour would have to change after being portrayed as a drunken sexual predator in the prosecution evidence, unanimously rejected by the jury when he was found ‘not guilty’ of all charges.
He will not sell his Pendleton home – where the alleged rape and most serious alleged sexual assault took place – and dreams of retiring there with his spouse after a long career representing the people of the constituency he loves.
Mr Evans defended his behaviour, depicted in court as that of a ‘silly old man’ entranced by the young males in his circle, saying: “People make passes. If you’re never allowed to make a pass, it’s jeopardy for the future of the human race.
“I don’t want to rehash what went on in the court room over five weeks and indeed in my head over the last 11 months.
“Let’s just say this: You can’t go through the fires of hell without it shaping or moulding you in one way or another.”
He said the experience would effect his behaviour in the future.
He said: “I will be more cautious about the friends that I keep. I will ensure that I do not put myself in a situation that can be misconstrued.
“Most people do not have to do that. Most people get on with their lives. But I clearly now know that I am in a special situation and that anything that I do will be scrutinised far more than anybody else.”
Responding to the accusations he was too touchy-feely in drink, the MP said: “People say to me ‘you appear to be too tactile when you’ve had a drink’ and I say I’m tactile when I don’t have a drink. It’s just my nature.”
Mr Evans, who only came out as gay in 2010 after the death of his mother Betty, moved on to his personal life confessing: “I have never been in a proper relationship.
“I have been in a sort of open relationship with a 33-year-old man for seven years.
“He has been incredibly supportive of me throughout this ordeal.”
Cuddling Claude, a 15-week-old French bulldog they share, Mr Evans revealed: “Whether we go on to have a serious and proper relationship is something we will have to talk about now this is over.
“He is not my partner he is my ‘special person’. He has been to Pendleton and likes it.”
Then his spoke of his dream for the future: “To marry somebody and spend the rest of my life with them.
“I have no problem over gay marriage and my Christian faith.
“I don’t know if it will be with this man. It is something I would like in the long term.
“I wish I had come out years ago. But things are different now. It’s not such a big deal.”
He expressed his fury about allegations made in court that he was ‘a functional alcoholic’ with a blunt: “No. I am not an alcoholic.
“I lived with an alcoholic, my father Albert, and I know what it is like.
“He drank a bottle of whisky a night in the house.”
Mr Evans claimed he was merely ‘a social drinker’ who never opened a bottle of wine when on his own at home.
He did admit there was a period when things started to get out of control: “After my mother died in 2009, I started drinking more and was warned by the Whips about it. That was it.”
The MP also revealed the scale of his ‘darkest moments’ thinking about suicide frequently at 2.30 in the morning.
He tackled it, as he had a bout of depression, aged 27, with techniques like meditation.
He said: “It’s strange how things turn out. Those techniques, my friends and my faith got me through this 11 months without any medication. I’m quite proud of that.”
Mr Evans was firm that he would not sell his home next to the Swan With Two Necks pub in Pendleton, saying he loves the house and the people in the village and the pub who had supported him so ‘fantastically’.
He said: “I want to retire there, with or without my partner or spouse.
“This is the house I love, in the village I love. I am not going to let what has happened affect that.”
Mr Evans revealed he had been forced to sell his story to the Sunday newspapers to cover a quarter of his court costs.
The rest came from selling the family newsagents in Swansea in 2012, savings he had made towards building a conservatory where he aimed to serve charity dinners cooked by his own hand, and friends helping out.
However, he promised his view on government legal aid changes had altered along with so much else in his life.
He said: “When I get back to Parliament I am going to look again at them. There are people in my constituency and elsewhere who are not so lucky and cannot sell their stories to the papers.
“I do not want the state to pay my £130,000 back. I want to make sure that ordinary people who find themselves in my position don’t end up with huge bill.”
Despite the damage to his reputation by his portrayal as a ‘Benny Hill-style’ groper, Mr Evans is optimistic about his political future.
He accepts he will never get his old job as Commons deputy speaker back or achieve high office again.
But the MP believes his acquittal means he can be selected as Tory candidate again next May and fight off a UKIP challenge. Many commentators are not so sure that, despite public assurances of support, either will happen.
Mr Evans said: “I am going back to represent the people of Ribble Valley at Westminster, the job I have done for 22 years.
“As long as the constituency association wants me to, I shall fight the next general election.
“I don’t think it will be a dirty election. Bring on a UKIP challenge, I am a Eurosceptic Tory.
“I love representing the people of the Ribble Valley.
“When you are on the verge of losing something you love you realise how important it is.
“Recently I was buying a lottery ticket and I realised that being MP for Ribble Valley meant I had won the lottery in life.
“My last question to the Prime Minister was about housing in Ribble Valley. My next question to him will be about over-zealous developers wanting to build houses on green belt land.
“My message to the people of Ribble Valley is simple: Thank you. I want to repay them by continuing as their MP and making their voice heard in Parliament.”