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Deputy Speaker to face sex charges
House of Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans will be charged with a series of sex offences against seven men, the director of public prosecutions said.
Keir Starmer, QC, said the 55-year-old Tory MP is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and one rape count.
Evans, who represents the Ribble Valley constituency in Lancashire, will appear before magistrates in Preston on September 18.
Mr Starmer said: "Following an investigation by Lancashire police, the Crown Prosecution Service has received a file of evidence in the case of Mr Nigel Evans MP which concerns allegations of a sexual nature. After careful consideration, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute Mr Evans. Lancashire Constabulary has therefore been authorised to charge two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and one count of rape relating to a total of seven alleged victims.
"The decision in this case was taken by Joanne Cunliffe, an experienced specialist rape prosecutor, in consultation with John Dilworth, Head of the CPS North West Complex Casework Unit and in consultation with an external and highly experienced criminal QC. I have also been consulted on this case. The decision has been taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and the CPS legal guidance on rape and sexual offences. Mr Evans will appear before Preston Magistrates' Court on 18 September 2013."
The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between January 1 2002 and January 1 2004; the sexual assaults between January 1 2009 and April 1 2013, and the rape between March 29 2013 and April 1.
Evans, from Pendleton in Lancashire, answered bail having previously been arrested in May and June. He was rearrested and interviewed by detectives throughout the day before later being charged. The Swansea-born politician had arrived earlier at Preston police station in a silver Jaguar XF driven by his solicitor. He smiled and said: "Thanks for coming" to members of the press who had gathered outside.
He dismissed the original allegations against him as "completely false", and said they had been made by two people he had "regarded as friends". In June, after his second arrest, he said: "I continue to refute all allegations."
He has stepped aside from his Speaker duties since his arrest, but has continued to work as an MP. He was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was "tired of living a lie".
Speaking outside Preston police station, he told reporters: "I have today answered bail following complaints I said were incredulous. Whilst I'm saddened this case has not been closed today, I am certain of two things: firstly that I am innocent; and secondly, that my innocence will be demonstrated. Having informed my fellow deputy speakers Lindsay Hoyle and Dawn Primarolo, my association chairman and my staff, I can confirm I will now resign as deputy speaker However, I will continue to work hard for the people of the Ribble Valley from the back benches where I first started my political career in 1992. I appreciate that this case will create a great deal of media interest, but after today I will not be making any further comment until after the case concludes."