DCSIMG

House of Commons Speaker to give evidence in court

Nigel Evans.

Nigel Evans.

The Speaker of the House of Commons is to give evidence in the trial of MP Nigel Evans, who is accused of various sexual offences.

John Bercow is listed among prosecution witnesses in the case against the former deputy speaker.

Evans, 56, faces nine charges in all, dating from 2002 to April 1 last year. He denies two counts of indecent assault, six of sexual assault and one of rape.

Before the jury of seven men and five women was sworn in at Preston Crown Court, potential jurors were asked if they had any personal acquaintance with any prosecution witnesses - some of whom are public figures - or Evans.

Mr Bercow was among the names read out by prosecutor Mark Heywood QC, along with fellow MPs Sarah Wollaston, Michael Fabricant, Patrick McLoughlin, Alexander John Randall, Conor Burns and Tom Blenkinsopp.

Former MPs Lembit Opik and Adam Pryce are also listed as witnesses for the Crown.

Potential jurors were also asked if they lived in Evans’s Ribble Valley constituency, had ever done or lived with someone who had.

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 last year; and the rape between March 29 and April 1 last year.

None of the seven alleged victims, all adult males, can be named, as the law bans the identification of complainants of sexual offences.

Addressing the jury, trial judge Mr Justice King said: “No doubt you will have worked out, I am sure, that this case involves a public figure. It involves a politician. It involves Members of Parliament.

“Don’t be overawed by that. Be dispassionate throughout the case.

“Try Mr Evans only on the evidence. Put out of your mind any political views or prejudice you may have. Try this case only on the evidence.”

Evans resigned as Commons deputy speaker after he was charged on September 10 last year.

The Swansea-born MP, who lives in Pendleton, Lancashire, was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. He was a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001.

As deputy speaker, he sat as an independent MP but he will not take the Conservative whip and will sit as an independent MP for his constituency.

His trial is expected to last up to five weeks.

Prosecutor Mr Heywood will open the case to the jury at 2pm.

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page

 

X scottish independence image

Keep up-to-date with all the latest Referendum news