‘Business as usual’ for Ribble Valley MP at centre of sex assault claims

Mr Evans listens to his constituents regarding road access to farm land issues at Salesbury. (s)
Mr Evans listens to his constituents regarding road access to farm land issues at Salesbury. (s)

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans says he will conduct his week-long surgery across the Ribble Valley as usual this summer – despite ongoing sex claims against him.

Speaking exclusively to the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, Mr Evans said: “In light of the complaints made against me in the last few weeks, I thought it was imperative to make sure all the constituents of the Ribble Valley know absolutely nothing has changed for me in terms of my dedication to represent them and our area.

“I have said all I intend to regarding the claims and will work with the investigation to rebuff and ultimately refute them.

“In the meantime, however, my team and I will not be distracted from the most important aspect of our jobs and will continue to ensure the concerns of individuals, families and businesses are addressed and heard, looked into and dealt with.”

The 55-year-old Deputy Speaker of the Commons, who was arrested in May on suspicion of rape and sexual assault, was rearrested on suspicion of three counts of indecent assault when he answered bail last Wednesday.

All of the allegations involve men in their 20s. The original rape and sexual assault charges are claimed to have happened in Pendleton between July, 2009, and March, 2013. The new indecent assault allegations are claimed to have occurred in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011.

Mr Evans, who has stepped aside from his duties as Commons Deputy Speaker since his arrest, but has continued to work as an MP, added: “As many people will know, every year I conduct a week-long summer surgery across the Ribble Valley. This year will be absolutely no different and I will be making stops in all areas from Clitheroe to Longridge, Slaidburn to Tosside and Bamber Bridge to Lostock Hall. From Monday August 19th to Friday August 23rd I will be in pre-advertised areas at set times and hope to see as many constituents as possible in that time. There is no need to book an appointment so I hope people take the opportunity to come and speak to me.

“I have honestly been overwhelmed by the level of support from people across the Ribble Valley.

“However, I can understand some would need the reassurance, that I hope I have given, that I remain fully committed to the privilege of representing them as their Member of Parliament.

“Nothing is more important to me than working hard for the people of our area and I have been honoured to do so ever since I was first elected. I remain, therefore, steadfast in that commitment.”

Mr Evans has received an enormous amount of support locally – including from his colleagues in the Ribble Valley Conservative Association.

Chairman of Ribble Valley Conservatives Michael Ranson posted on the association’s website last week: “The Ribble Valley Conservative Association is aware of additional allegations made against our MP Nigel Evans, who has made it clear he denies all these allegations.

“We accept the police must properly investigate the alleged offences, but until any a decision is made to charge by the Director of Public Prosecutions and Crown Prosecution Service or the charges are dismissed we are unable to comment. Our position is to continue support Nigel Evans in clearing his name and in the meantime expect him to continue in his role representing the Ribble Valley in Parliament.”