Nigel Evans trial: MP 'abused young men in Parliament'

Nigel Evans, arrives at Preston Crown Court Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nigel Evans was warned about his behaviour by colleagues, the court heard

The former deputy speaker of the House of Commons sexually abused young men in Parliament and at the Conservative Party conference, a court has heard.

MP Nigel Evans, 56, used his "powerful" influence to attack seven men from 2002 to 2013, Preston Crown Court was told.

In 2009, one alleged victim told two Conservative MPs of an assault at Mr Evans' home, the jury heard.

The former Tory MP denies one count of rape, two of indecent assault and six of sexual assault.

Mr Evans resigned as deputy speaker in September after he was charged.

'Often in drink'

The jury was told the independent Ribble Valley MP had the "ability to make or break" the careers of those who wished to work in Westminster.

Mr Evans was "often in drink" when he was "using or trading his position of influence" to attack young men, the prosecution claimed.

The jury of seven men and five women heard his behaviour was "repeated over time, despite warnings of respected colleagues".

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said: "It has also escalated in seriousness, no doubt because he believed that his position made it less than likely that someone would complain.

"The prosecution alleges that he, on separate occasions over many years, has sexually assaulted young men, both in public situations and in private.

"By the last of these, in early 2013, he raped one of the young men," he said.

An alleged assault took place at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool in 2003 at a bar called Number 10, inside the Imperial Hotel.

The MP was drinking with a friend between midnight and 3am and was described as being "plastered", the court was told.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Ribble Valley MP is alleged to have tried to kiss one man behind a curtain in the House of Commons after a meeting in the Strangers' Bar

"Without warning or any kind of invitation" Mr Evans tried to put his hand down a young man's trousers, the jury heard.

The man was "annoyed and embarrassed" and "made it clear to Mr Evans that he did not want to be touched in this way", the prosecution said.

On another occasion, it is alleged a man, then aged 21, accepted an invitation from a friend to see the House of Commons in 2009.

He was in a group with Mr Evans who gathered in the Strangers' Bar at the Houses of Parliament.

During the evening, a comment was made that led the man to put his arm around the MP's waist, which Mr Evans is said to have reciprocated.

Later, Mr Evans beckoned him towards a curtain that pulls across a small lobby that leads to the bar's terrace, the jury heard.

'Punch him or leave'

The MP said "Come here" and then drew the curtain behind them and tried to kiss him, Mr Heywood said.

The prosecutor said: "He felt most awkward and got out from behind him and steered the MP back towards the bar."

Another alleged victim said he wanted Mr Evans to resign after he was assaulted at the MP's home in Pendleton, Lancashire, the jury was told.

The court heard the man met Conservative MP for Derbyshire Dales Patrick McLoughlin - who at the time was also the opposition chief whip - Uxbridge and South Ruislip Tory MP John Randall, and Iain Corby, managing director of the Policy Research Unit.

The prosecutor said a resignation would have been "difficult" as "at that stage in 2009, there was a general election coming and there may be local by-elections".

Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Nigel Evans sat in the dock taking notes on the first day of the trial

"Mr Evans was spoken to. He did not deny for one minute the event.

"He was given words of advice; those included that, from that time on, not to put himself in situations in which allegations of this nature might arise again," Mr Heywood said.

Last year, Mr Evans was reported to the police over an alleged rape by the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow when an MP made him aware of the allegation, the prosecution said.

The alleged victim, then aged 22, spurned Mr Evans' advances when he spent the night at his home, the court heard.

After being led to a bedroom, the man locked himself in a bathroom and texted a friend to say: "Help me," then wrote: "Nigel has tried to stick his tongue down my throat three times."

The friend advised him to "punch him or leave" and told him to go to the loft as Mr Evans would be too drunk to get up the stairs.

The jury was told the man returned to the bedroom where he and Mr Evans went to sleep.

He claims he woke up a couple of hours later when he was being raped on the bed, the jury heard.

'Abused positions he held'

The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between 1 January 2002 and 1 January 2004.

The sexual assaults are alleged to have taken place between 1 January 2009 and 1 April last year, and the rape between 29 March and 1 April last year.

Mr Heywood said: "So the prosecution allege he not only abused those young men, in some cases seriously, but he abused the positions he held.

"Mr Evans, on the other hand, denies the allegations made.

"He says that in respect of, for example, the rape, events were entirely consensual... or the result of misreading signals or simply that either they did not happen or he has no clear recollection because of the passage of time," Mr Heywood added.

Mr Evans, who was born in Swansea and lives in Pendleton, Lancashire, was a Conservative MP before becoming deputy speaker in June 2010, a politically neutral role.

He has not returned to the Conservatives in the Commons and is representing his constituents as an independent.

The trial continues.

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