THE judge has warned the jury in the case of Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans they must decide whether suggestions of ‘collusion’ between witnesses have any validity as they consider their verdict.

Mr Justice Timothy King issued a series of strict criteria to help make their decision on the guilt or innocence of the former Commons Deputy Speaker before he summed up the facts of the case yesterday.

The case at Preston Crown Court has heard how Evans denies two charges of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault, one attempted sexual assault and one count of rape.

Mr Justice King said the jurors had to make their minds up on each individual charge based on what they believed the true facts were, whether Evans’ actions were sexually motivated, whether the alleged victims had consented and whether Evans genuinely believed they had consented.

He said they had consider the possibility of ‘collusion’ between witnesses or inadvertent contact which may have led to similarities in their accounts.

The judge told the jury the ‘good character of Mr Evans’ is something you should take into account’ when considering the reliability of his evidence and the likelihood of his committing criminal acts.

However, he stressed this was not proof of the 56-year-old’s innocence. Mr Justice King then summarised the evidence given on the first four charges.
They concerned Evans:

  •  Allegedly putting his hands down the trousers of a gay Westminster worker in a London bar in 2003.
  • Allegedly twice putting his hand down the trousers of a Tory party worker at the Blackpool Conservative conference in 2003.
  • Allegedly trying to kiss a young male visitor to Parliament near the Strangers' Bar in the summer of 2009.
  • Allegedly putting his hand down the boxer shorts of a young man while he slept on a sofa at the his Pendleton home in July 2009.

Mr Justice King will sum up the evidence relating to the other five charges, including the alleged rape of a young man at the MP’s constituency house after an evening’s drinking, today before sending the jurors out to consider their verdicts.