House of Commons deputy speaker denies rape allegation
Nigel Evans released on bail following arrest at home in Lancashire
Deputy House speaker Nigel Evans gives a press statement at his home in Pendleton Lancashire today. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Deputy House of Commons Speaker Nigel Evans said today that allegations he raped one man and sexually assaulted another are “completely false”.
The 55-year-old Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley was released on bail last night after being arrested at his home in Pendleton, Lancashire. Both alleged victims are in their 20s.
In a short statement outside his home, Mr Evans said: “The complaints are completely false and I cannot understand why they have been made.”
Mr Evans, reading from a prepared statement, said: “Yesterday, I was interviewed by the police concerning two complaints, one of which dates back four years, made by two people who are well known to each other and until yesterday, I regarded as friends.
“The complaints are completely false and I cannot understand why they have been made, especially as I have continued to socialise with one as recently as last week.
“I appreciate the way the police have handled this in such a sensitive manner and I would like to thank my colleagues, friends and members of the public who have expressed their support and, like me, a sense of incredulity at these events. Thank you very much.”
He did not answer any questions from reporters after making the statement. His solicitor Adrian Yalland said Mr Evans is not intending to stand down, either as deputy speaker or as an MP.
Lancashire Police arrested Mr Evans yesterday, on allegations that he raped one man and sexually assaulted another man between July 2009 and March 2013.
He has been released on bail until June 19th. It is understood that British prime minister David Cameron has been made aware of the arrest.
Foreign secretary William Hague said today that Mr Evans is “a popular and well-respected member of Parliament and deputy speaker”.
He added that he would not comment further because the case is subject to legal proceedings.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond said he had been “shocked” by the allegations about Mr Evans.
“I know Nigel well, I have known him for years. I’m obviously as shocked as everybody else is,” he told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.
He suggested that it could be “very difficult” for the MP to carry on as deputy speaker while the matter was being investigated.
“I think that is essentially a question the Speaker will have to consider,” he said.
“I stick rigidly to the view that we should treat people as innocent until they are proven guilty but it is quite difficult to carry out a sensitive and high profile role while being under this kind of scrutiny.”