Evans’ defence questions evidence

Former deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans
Former deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans
Share this article

Regret over having sex is not the basis to convict Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans, a court has been told.

Peter Wright QC, in his closing speech for the defence, said the man who claims the former deputy speaker raped him now regretted having sex with him, but this did not make the MP a guilty man.

Evans, 56, is alleged to have sexually abused seven young men on various dates between 2002 and last year by using his “powerful” political influence to take advantage of them, often while drunk. He denies all charges.

Mr Wright went through each of the charges one by one, pointing out what he claimed were inconsistencies in the accounts given and questioning the credibility of the evidence against the defendant.

In the most serious charge, rape, Mr Wright said the issue of consent was “central”.

The complainant, aged 22, told the jury he was raped and sexually assaulted by Evans after a dinner party at the defendant’s home in Pendleton, Lancashire, in March last year. But the MP said the sex was consensual.

Mr Wright told the jury the young man had told “deliberate untruths” in the account given to police and to the jury to make himself “more convincing”.

He pointed to a series of inconsistencies between what he told officers and what he told the jury - there was no pushing on to the bed, no forcible undoing of trousers, no struggle to push his attacker off.

In fact the truth was the young man had consented to have sex with a man more than twice his age, the court heard.

Mr Wright added: “In the cold light of day, the complainant may regret what had taken place and how far it had actually gone. But such sentiments are some considerable distance removed from an incident of sexual assault and rape.

“He gave every indication of consent. Now he seeks to turn the clock back.”

In 2003, Evans is alleged to have indecently assaulted two men in their 20s when he approached them in public places while drunk and put his hand down their trousers - one in a Soho bar the other at a hotel during the 2003 Tory Party conference.

Mr Wright said those earlier alleged incidents showed a “drunken over-familiarity” - not what the prosecution “thesis” alleges - the actions of a powerful, “career making and breaking” politician abusing his position.

He next turned to the allegation of attempted sexual assault by leaning in to kiss a young man, who rebuffed him, in an alleged incident near the Strangers Bar at the House of Commons.

But there were inconsistencies between how the alleged complainant described the incident and what another alleged victim of Evans told police.

Next Mr Wright turned to another allegation of sexual assault made by a young man who told the jury Evans “cupped” his genitals while having a drink at the Strangers Bar in 2010.

Mr Wright said: “A casual indifference percolated his account, to say nothing of the absurdity of what Nigel Evans is alleged to have done in full view of everyone.”

Evans’ lawyer then addressed the jury concerning the claims made by another young man who said he was assaulted by Evans while sleeping on the sofa at the MP’s home in June 2009.

Again Mr Wright said there was a “distinct lack of consistency” in his account.

The complainant had made a “casual remark” alleging Evans assaulted him in front of another MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston - which put him in a “quandary”.

Mr Wright continued: “After that it gathered a momentum of its own, on which he was carried. He was propelled into a meeting with the Speaker and that this was a police matter.”

Later the complainant “embellished” his story and it was “bolstered” by claims of assault made by others - some who, the jury has heard, were friends of his.

The final allegation dealt with by Mr Wright was not connected to the others but was also “fundamentally flawed.”

In this charge, the complainant alleged he was sexually assaulted by Evans in the House of Commons in March 2011.

But the alleged victim was a man who could not remember if he first contacted the police - or the press, with the claims, Mr Wright told the jury, adding that he also later invited Evans to functions and a dinner.

Mr Wright asked the jury: “Why would you do that? Why would you invite your abuser? Why would you do that?”

The complainant later called the incident a “drunken misunderstanding” and told officers he did not want to pursue the matter.

Mr Wright added: “The underlying truth is it didn’t happen.”

Evans denies two indecent assaults, five counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault and one count of rape.

The judge is expected to begin summing up the case later on Monday.