British deputy speaker 'sexually abused men in parliament'

Nigel Evans,  former deputy speaker of Britain's House of Commons, arrives at Preston Crown Court northern England, on March 10, 2014. Evans appeared at court on Monday charged with sexual offences against men. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Nigel Evans,  former deputy speaker of Britain's House of Commons, arrives at Preston Crown Court northern England, on March 10, 2014. Evans appeared at court on Monday charged with sexual offences against men. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - The former deputy speaker of Britain's House of Commons sexually abused young men in parliament and at a Conservative party conference, a court heard on Monday.

Nigel Evans, 56, had the "ability to make or break" the careers of those who wished to work in Westminster and he used his "powerful" influence to assault them, a jury heard.

Evans denies nine charges dating from 2002 to 2013, involving seven men, including two of indecent assault, six of sexual assault and one of rape.

He was often drunk when he acted, Preston Crown Court in northwest England was told.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood said Evans assaulted the men despite a series of warnings from his colleagues to stop.

"This behaviour did not happen once but has been repeated over time and despite repeated warnings given to him by others," Mr Heywood said.

"It has also escalated in seriousness, no doubt because he believed that his position made it less than likely that someone would complain.

"The prosecution alleges that he, on separate occasions over many years, has sexually assaulted young men, both in public situations and in private.

"By the last of these, in early 2013, he raped one of the young men." Evans was forced to resign as deputy speaker of the House of Commons, the lower house of parliament, in September after he was charged.

One assault allegedly took place at a bar during the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool in 2003.

Evans, who was said to be heavily drunk, stood next to the complainant and "without warning or any kind of invitation" he put his right hand down the young man's trousers, the prosecutor said.

The complainant was aware that journalists were in the bar and "discreetly removed" Evans's hand, but was "annoyed and embarrassed", the court heard.

Another alleged victim said he had wanted Evans to resign after he was assaulted at the lawmaker's home.

Meetings were held with senior officials of the Conservative Party and Evans was warned about his conduct as a general election was taking place the following year, in 2010.

Yet, the prosecution alleges, he went on to commit further indecent assaults and allegedly raped a man last year, after the Conservatives had come to power in a coalition government.

"So the prosecution allege, he not only abused young men, in some cases seriously, but he abused positions he held," Mr Heywood said.

The trial continues.

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