Sun, Jun 02, 2013 - Page 6 News List

UK politician faces new groping claims

The Guardian, LONDON

Police investigating sexual assault allegations against UK Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans are planning to interview a fourth alleged victim who claims he was intimately groped by the deputy speaker in a House of Commons bar.

The former parliamentary intern, 22, claims he was assaulted in the Sports and Social Club bar in December 2011 even though he had never spoken to the member of parliament (MP) for Ribble Valley and was there with his parents. Detectives have contacted the alleged victim and asked for a formal statement.

Evans had been arrested following allegations that he raped one man and sexually assaulted another between 2009 and this year — accusations he has branded “completely false.”

A third person gave a statement to Lancashire Constabulary last month saying he too had been sexually assaulted.

The MP vigorously denies the claims.

The former intern said he had just finished a stint in the House of Commons and was in the bar with his parents — he was showing them around parliament and had stopped off for a drink — when the alleged incident occurred.

Evans, he said, stood with his back to the former intern and groped his bottom for about a minute.

This week, police contacted the former intern, who now has a full-time job away from parliament, and asked for a statement.

Evans, 55, was arrested on May 4 after allegations that he had raped one man and sexually assaulted another. The MP read a statement outside his Lancashire home vehemently denying the accusations against him after he was released on bail last month.

The senior Tory spoke of his “incredulity” after being arrested over allegations by two men he had until then “regarded as friends.”

Evans, who came out as gay in 2010, said he had just endured “the worst 24 hours of my life.”

“The allegations are completely false and I can’t understand why they have been made, especially as I have continued to socialize with one [of the complainants] as recently as last week,” he said at the time of his arrest. “I appreciate the way the police have handled this in such a sensitive manner, and I’d 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.”

In the days after his arrest, Evans announced that he would step away from the Speaker’s chair for a few days, but would return to work the following week.

The Speaker’s office released a statement saying that, while Evans will remain deputy speaker, he will not resume chairing duties while police investigations continue.

Evans has refused to comment on previous claims that at least one of the complainants was a House of Commons passholder.

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