MP granted bail ahead of trial over sex assault offences

MP Nigel Evans
MP Nigel Evans
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Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, will go on trial for sexual offences next March.

Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, appeared in the dock at Preston Crown Court yesterday for a preliminary hearing where his trial date was fixed.

The 55-year-old is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape. The charges date from 2002 to earlier this year.

His lawyer, Peter Wright QC, emphasised there will be a trial, with the MP having previously emphatically denied all charges.

Evans, who spoke only to confirm his name, was told to go into the dock of the court when he appeared in the courtroom at the start of the 10-minute hearing.

He was asked to hand over his mobile phone by the court security guard and disappeared briefly into a holding room behind the dock, out of view of the courtroom, before the judge came in and the hearing began.

A trial, lasting about four weeks, was set for March 10 next year.

The charges relate to seven men, who are alleged victims of Evans.

The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between January 1 2002 and January 1 2004; the sexual assaults – said to be touching without consent – between January 1 2009 and April 1 this year; and the rape between March 29 and April 1 this year.

Evans resigned as deputy speaker of the House of Commons after he was charged on September 10.

A pre-trial plea and case management hearing was also set for January 24.

Mr Justice Timothy King granted Evans bail until that hearing on conditio that he did not contact any alleged victims.

He said: “I will grant you bail to attend court on the next occasion on those conditions.”

Evans replied “Thank you” before he left the dock. He made no further comment.

He has protested his innocence and pledged to “see this through to the end”.

The Swansea-born MP, who lives in Pendleton, Lancashire, was one of three deputy speakers elected in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was “tired of living a lie”.