It was business as usual for acquitted Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans who returned to work at his constituency office in Clitheroe today (Tuesday).
In his first and only local newspaper interview, Mr Evans spoke of his relief at being cleared of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults at Preston Crown Court on Thursday.
Speaking exclusively to Clitheroe Advertiser and Times reporter Julie Magee, Mr Evans said he is determined to stay on as MP for the Ribble Valley and fight for the seat representing the Conservative Party at the next General Election.
When asked of his plans for the future, Mr Evans said: “To get on with the job I’ve been doing for the 22 years.”
The 56-year-old added he had thrown himself into representing the Ribble Valley since the police knocked on the door of his Pendleton home on May 4th last year.
“I thought that was a very good and effective way of ensuring I just didn’t dwell on the horrific things I was facing and being accused of,” he said.
Mr Evans added, however, it wasn’t practical for him to carry on as Deputy Speaker.
“I was in a land of limbo. I couldn’t sit in the chair and I couldn’t talk from the back benches and I thought in the end when it came to charge that’s it, it’s going to trial and I want now to ensure I have got my voice back in Parliament on behalf of the people in the Ribble Valley and the best way to do that is to resign as Deputy Speaker.
“I believe I now have an opportunity to speak on behalf of the Ribble Valley on any issues, but also this particular issue as well, as I’ve now got some experience in this matter and the most effective way of me doing that is from the back benches.”
Mr Evans said if he could press the “rewind button” he would and clearly wishes this episode of this life hadn’t happened, but that he now had to learn from the experience.
He added he had been chastened by the whole episode, that he had been through the “fires of hell” and it would be a long time before he had a relationship with absolutely anybody.
Mr Evans added he had been “appalled” at being called a “highly functioning alcoholic” by one accuser during the trial, as he had grown up with an alcoholic father who drank a whole bottle of whisky in an evening before hiding the bottle. He said he knows the impact alcoholism has on families - that it “destroys them”.
“To be tarred with that particular brush, I thought was shocking,” said Mr Evans. “The people who have known me over the past 23 years know that is a load of rubbish.”
Mr Evans said he was a social drinker who is president of the Parliamentary Beer Group and, since the trial, one brewery had actually sent him a barrel of beer which he said he would be sharing with his supporters in the Ribble Valley.
Mr Evans said he was looking forward to getting back to the job he loves – representing the people of the Ribble Valley.
For reporter Julie Magee’s full interview with Mr Evans pick up a copy of this Thursday’s Clitheroe Advertiser and Times.