Nigel Evans to carry on as independent MP despite sex charges

Nigel Evans' speech to House of Commons after being charged with seven sexual offences

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Nigel Evans will continue to represent his constituents as an independent MP, despite being charged with offences including sexual assault and rape.

In a statement to MPs, Mr Evans vowed to "robustly defend" his innocence, quoting a line from Churchill: "When you're going through hell, keep going."

He said the best tribute he could pay voters in Ribble Valley, Lancashire, was to carry on advocating their views.

Mr Evans resigned from his position as Commons deputy speaker on Tuesday.

He said the day in 2010 when he was elected by his fellow MPs to the role, which involves chairing debates in the Commons, had been "one of the happiest days of my life".

'Limbo'

Start Quote

I have received his resignation with sadness. I wish to thank Nigel for his three years of service to the House as deputy speaker”

End Quote John Bercow Commons Speaker

The 55-year-old was charged on Tuesday with two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault, and one of rape against seven male alleged victims.

"Since these allegations, I have not been able to fully fulfil my duties in the chair, which left me in a land of limbo," he said in his resignation statement to MPs.

"None of us was elected to the fine office of Member of Parliament to be put in that invidious position, unable to fully fulfil the reason why we were sent here.

"I am so grateful to the Speaker and to the two other deputy speakers... for the unstinting support they have given me over the three years but particularly since 4 May [when he was first arrested] in filling in for me on my chair duties.

"I have had so many hugs, prayers and good wishes since 4 May and I would like to thank everyone who has shown me such compassionate consideration, my family particularly, my association, who have been marvellous, and even seasoned, crusty journalists have displayed a heart I have never before witnessed."

Nigel Evans' career

  • Has been MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire since 1992
  • Vice-chairman of the Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001
  • Promoted to shadow Welsh secretary in 2001 for two years
  • Elected as one of three Commons deputy Speakers in 2010
  • Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was "tired of living a lie"
  • Resigned as deputy Speaker in September 2013 after being charged with offences including sexual assault, indecent assault and rape

Mr Evans has been MP for the Ribble Valley constituency since 1992.

He was born in Swansea, worked in the family newsagents in the city and cut his political teeth as a councillor there. He is a former shadow Welsh secretary - the main Conservative spokesman on Wales in opposition.

By returning to the backbenches, he said, he would have the opportunity to get involved once again in "bread-and-butter" political issues.

"I'm proud to serve the people of the Ribble Valley and the best tribute that I can give them now is to get on with the job they sent me here to do," he said.

'Hugely valued'

The MP is expected to appear before Preston Magistrates' Court on 18 September.

The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between 1 January 2002 and 1 January 2004, the sexual assaults allegedly happened between 1 January 2009 and 1 April 2013, and the alleged rape between 29 March and 1 April 2013.

Responding to Mr Evans' resignation statement, Commons Speaker John Bercow described his outgoing deputy as "highly competent, fair and good-humoured" and a "loyal and hugely valued member of the team."

He added: "I am enormously grateful to him, and I know that the deputy speakers feel the same way."

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