The Conservative MP for Ribble Valley Nigel Evans has resigned as Deputy Speaker following an announcement he will be charged with offences including sexual assault, indecent assault and rape. The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement this evening:
‘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.
‘Can I remind all concerned that criminal proceedings are now active. All defendants have the right to a fair trial and it is very important that nothing is said, or reported, which could prejudice this trial.’
Evans has also released a statement, stating he will remain a member of Parliament but will step down as Deputy Speaker:
‘May I reassure everyone at this time that I will robustly defend my innocence I have today answered bail following complaints I have said were incredulous.
‘Whilst I am saddened that 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 staff, I can confirm I will now resign as deputy speaker.
‘However, I will continue to work hard for the people of Ribble Valley from the backbenches 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.’
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