Nigel Evans MP: Sex charges trial starts for former deputy speaker

Nigel Evans, arrives at Preston Crown Court Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The trial at Preston Crown Court is scheduled to last about four weeks

The speaker of the House of Commons is to give evidence in the trial of MP Nigel Evans, who is accused of nine sex offences against seven men.

John Bercow is a prosecution witness in the case at Preston Crown Court against the former Commons deputy speaker.

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

The MP, who retained the seat of Ribble Valley for the Tories in 2010, denies one count of rape, two of indecent assault and six of sexual assault.

The 56-year-old Lancashire MP, who currently represents his constituents as an independent, is said to have carried out the attacks between 2002 and 2013.

The trial at Preston Crown Court is scheduled to last about four weeks.

Mr Bercow was among the names read out by prosecutor Mark Heywood QC.

Other witnesses named included fellow MPs Sarah Wollaston, Michael Fabricant, Patrick McLoughlin, Alexander John Randall, Conor Burns and Tom Blenkinsopp.

'Don't be overawed'

Former MPs Lembit Opik and Adam Pryce are also listed as witnesses for the Crown.

Addressing the jury, trial judge Mr Justice King said: "This case involves a public figure. It involves a politician. It involves Members of Parliament.

"Don't be overawed by that. Be dispassionate throughout the case.

"Try Mr Evans only on the evidence. Put out of your mind any political views or prejudice you may have. Try this case only on the evidence."

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 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.

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