Former deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans used his “powerful” influence to sexually assault seven young men, a court has been told.
He had the “ability to make or break” the careers of those who wished to work in Westminster, a jury at Preston Crown Court heard.
Evans exploited his position and pressed his sexual attentions on his victims, and carried on doing so despite being warned about his behaviour, says the Crown.
Evans, 56, faces nine charges in all, dating from 2002 to April 1 last year, involving the seven complainants.
The MP for Ribble Valley, in Lancashire, denies two counts of indecent assault, six of sexual assault and one of rape.
Opening the case, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said: “Within the Palace of Westminster, in his constituency and in his own political party, Mr Evans was, during the decade with which you are concerned, a very well-known and powerful individual.
“Part of his influence included the ability to make, or to break, the careers of those young people who themselves would be politicians or work for those who govern.
“The prosecution case against Mr Evans is that he, often when in drink, pressed his sexual attentions on those younger men, using or trading on his position of influence.
“Now this behaviour did not happen once but has been repeated over time and despite repeated warnings given to him by others.
“It has also escalated in seriousness, no doubt because he believed that his position made it less than likely that someone would complain.”
Mr Heywood continued: “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 the these, in early 2013, he raped one of the young men.
“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, agreed upon, 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 then began to go through each of the allegations individually.
The first alleged offence happened in late 2002, with the complainant, an openly gay man, aged 27.
One evening he was in a busy Soho bar, either the Red Cube in Leicester Place or the Green Carnation, the jury heard, and Evans was also there.
“He had obviously had quite a lot to drink,” Mr Heywood said of the MP.
“Whilst the complainant was standing talking to someone else he felt a hand going down the back of his trousers.
“The defendant placed four fingers inside the waistband of his trousers, reaching down as far as the web of the thumb would allow.
“So you understand, there was no words, no warning or invitation.
“The complainant neither wanted nor consented to the act.
“He was shocked by it but, and this is, you will see repeated over time, he did not want to cause a fuss because of who Mr Evans was.”
The complainant was “annoyed” but “walked away” and felt “sorrow” at the MP’s behaviour because while it was known he was gay, at that point he was not “openly gay” and the wider public did not know this, the court heard.
Mr Heywood said were it an isolated event, never to be repeated, that would have been the end of it.
But he continued to tell the jury about the next alleged offence.
The second complainant was assaulted one night at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool in 2003, in a bar called Number 10 within the Imperial Hotel.
He was drinking with a friend, at some time between midnight and 3am, and Mr Evans was there and described as being “plastered”, Mr Heywood said.
Evans stood next to the complainant and “without warning or any kind of invitation” he put his right hand underneath the man’s suit and into the top of his waistband He then tried to put his hand down the young man’s trousers, the jury heard.
“In fact the impression being given was of someone trying to get his hand down the back of trousers and round the direction of the front,” said the prosecutor.
The complainant was aware that journalists were present and “discreetly removed” Evans’s hand and stepped back.
Mr Heywood said: “(The alleged victim) was annoyed and embarrassed. He made it clear to Mr Evans that he did not want to be touched in this way.”
A member of the Conservative Party Board then stepped in and moved the defendant away from the group. But about 10 minutes later Evans returned and “did exactly the same thing again”, said Mr Heywood. “That is, to make a concerted attempt to put his hands down his trousers.
“Again, there was no physical contact with the bottom or genitals, chiefly because he again pushed his hand away.”
The alleged victim informed a prospective parliamentary candidate, and an MEP, and was told to sit in the lobby while they dealt with Evans.
The jury was told that it was suggested to the defendant that he was drunk and it was time to retire to bed.
The following morning the complainant said he considered he had been a victim of a sexual assault .But he did not report the matter to the police and was content for the incident to be “quietly resolved” by the party.
Mr Heywood said both men had met on a handful of occasions since 2003 and had never discussed the events at the bar. At the time Evans occupied a “significant political job” as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales but he was later removed from that post by then Tory leader Michael Howard and had not served a frontbench role since, said the prosecutor.
The court was told the next alleged victim of a sexual assault was a gay man who was interested in working in Parliament.
He had accepted an invitation from a friend to see the House of Commons in the summer of 2009 and look at how it worked.
The complainant, aged about 21, was in a group, containing Evans, gathered in the Strangers Bar at the Houses of Parliament.
During the evening a comment was made that led the complainant to put his arm around the MP’s waist, which Evans reciprocated.
The prosecutor said: “There was nothing romantic or sexual about it. It was a moment of joviality and friendliness.
“There was no invitation to the defendant for them to get closer. It was an isolated incident.”
A few hours later the complainant was in the corridor outside the bar when Evans beckoned him towards a curtain that pulls across a small lobby that leads to the bar’s terrace, the jury heard.
The MP said “come here” and then drew the curtain behind them, Mr Heywood continued.
“The defendant, who appeared a bit drunk, leaned towards him and went to kiss him,” said the prosecutor.
“The younger man was at first shocked and said no.
“He pushed him back and the defendant said ‘oh no, it’s okay’ and leaned in again to kiss.
“He said ‘no, it’s fine but we’re not doing that’.
“He felt most awkward and got out from behind him and steered the MP back towards the bar.”
The complainant returned to the bar, told his friend what had happened but afterwards considered the matter closed.
Mr Heywood next outlined the fourth alleged sexual assault, in early July 2009 involving a bisexual young man and said to have taken place in Evans’s house in the village of Pendleton, Lancashire.
After drinking in the local pub they returned to the house with the complainant “very merry” and Mr Evans “pretty drunk”, the jury heard.
The MP went to bed and the younger man undressed to his boxer shorts, covered himself with a blanket and went to sleep on the sofa in the sitting room.
But soon after he could “sense” somebody else present and woke to find Evans sitting on the sofa next to him, the court heard.
The younger man asked Evans if he was “okay”, and Evans replied he had just come to check he was all right and returned upstairs.
The court heard the younger man woke for a second time to find Evans’s arm draped over him and his head pressed into his back - with the MP again saying he was simply checking everything was “okay”, before returning upstairs.
On the third occasion, the younger man woke to find Evans close behind him, perched on the edge of the sofa.
Evans is then accused of putting his hand under the blanket and inside the boxer shorts of the younger man, taking hold of his penis.
“The reaction was telling,” Mr Heywood said.
“The younger man immediately pushed the defendant across the room and screamed at him, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’
“The defendant asked him to calm down and apologised, saying he had got carried away and he had misunderstood.”
When the young man got home he contacted Adam Price, at the time a Plaid Cymru MP, who put him in touch with Michael Fabricant, a Tory whip who told him to leave the matter with him.
A meeting was arranged with the complainant, Patrick McLoughlin MP, at the time the Opposition Chief Whip, John Randall MP and Iain Corby, managing director of the Policy Research Unit Ltd.
The young man wanted Evans to resign.
“That would be difficult,” Mr Heywood continued, “because at that stage in 2009, there was a general election coming and there may be local by-elections.
“It was not thought then, that was the obvious thing to happen. In the event the young man agreed.
“Mr Evans would be spoken to, he would seek help for his drinking.
“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.”
Evans then met the younger man himself on the terrace of the House of Commons and the matter was resolved, the jury heard.
Much later the complainant heard that a complaint of rape had been made against Evans and he was then spoken to by the Speaker of the House of Commons and police were contacted.
The fifth alleged offence, a sexual assault on another young man, happened shortly after the 2010 General Election in the Stranger’s Bar at the Houses of Parliament, where the complainant was drinking with Evans and others.
The pair were introduced and shook hands and engaged in “polite conversation” for five minutes or so.
“In that context,” Mr Heywood continued, “Suddenly, without warning, or invitation, or cause the defendant, Mr Evans, reached out with his right hand and physically cupped the complainant’s genitals through his clothing.
“The young man pushed the hand down and away in a sweeping motion and said, ‘No, that’s not cool.’
“The defendant did not seem to react, he just carried on as though nothing had happened.”
Mr Heywood said at this time Evans was not part of the Tories front bench team or in the Coalition government and his ambitions took him “in a slightly different direction” towards running as deputy speaker of the Commons.
For this he would need widespread support and took advice from fellow MPs.
“People suggested he, from then on, should socialise with members of the house, not with younger people and any context where allegations, true or false, might arise,” Mr Heywood said.
The sixth sexual assault involved a young gay man, now aged 30, who came forward to police after hearing of the defendant’s arrest.
He was with others drinking at bars in the Palace of Westminster on the evening of February 28, 2011 when they were invited to go to Evans’ office in the Commons.