MP forced himself on men, jury told

Lancashire MP Nigel Evans sexually assaulted a number of men, despite warnings to stop his behaviour, a court has heard.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 11th March 2014, 8:26 am
Warned: Nigel Evans, 57, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, arrives at Preston Crown Court
Warned: Nigel Evans, 57, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, arrives at Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court was told Evans, 57, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, used his power and influence to force himself on young men with aspirations to enter politics.

A jury in the trial heard several of the seven alleged victims were students when drunken Ribble Valley MP Evans groped them, but despite warnings from Parliament, Evans’s abuse escalated until he was accused of rape in 2013.

Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, told the court: “No doubt he believed that his position made it less than likely that someone would complain.

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“He not only abused those young men, but he abused the positions he held. Mr Evans was, during the decade you are concerned with, a very powerful individual.

“Part of his influence included his ability to make or break careers of those who would be politicians or work for those who govern.

“He, often in drink, pressed his sexual attentions on younger men, using or trading on his position of influence.

“This behaviour has not just occurred once, but has been repeated over time, despite warnings because of his position.”

One man claimed Evans put his hand down his trousers at the Red Cube bar in Soho. He said he came to think of the assault as “a drunken pass”, feeling sorry for Evans as he was not at that time openly gay and had resorted to being a “drunken groper”.

The court also heard another man complained to Conor Burns MP and Nirj Deva MEP when he claimed Evans groped him in the ‘Number 10’ bar at The Imperial Hotel, Blackpool, during the Conservative Party conference in 2003.

However the man did not want to report the matter to police as he believed the whip system would sort it out, and instead complained to junior whip Mark Hoban MP.

A third man claims to have been assaulted by Evans after being beckoned into a room behind the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons. The man had his back to the wall when Evans leaned in to kiss him.

This man complained to a friend, who later also made an allegation of sexual assault against Evans after being invited to his constituency home in Pendleton, Lancashire.

After an evening of drinking the man said he went to sleep on a sofa but was woken to find Evans groping him underneath his boxer shorts.

The man pushed Evans off, but Evans claims to have “misunderstood” despite the man being in a relationship with the woman and making no suggestion to Evans he wanted anything sexual to take place.

The court heard on his return home, the man made contacy with Adam Price MP who put him in touch with Conservative whip Michael Fabricant MP. A meeting was arranged with Patrick McLoughlin MP, opposition chief whip and his deputy John Randall MP.

Mr Heywood QC said: “It was suggested the timing that the timing was unfortunate as there was a general election within a year and a by-election in progress.

“(The man) was upset as he from his perspective Evans should resign.

“In the event it was agreed Mr Evans would be spoken to and would seek help for his drink problems. He did not deny the event.

“He was given advice including that from that point he should not put himself in situations in which allegations of this nature might arise again.”

He was also advised to come out as a gay MP.

The other two men to make complaints against Evans also knew the man who had sought help from the chief whip, the court heard.

One claimed Evans groped him in a sports and social bar in the House of Commons, the other said he was raped and sexually assaulted at Evans’ constituency home.

Evans denies the allegations, claiming he has consensual sex with the man and that other allegations either did not happen or he had misread the signals given by the men.