RIBBLE Valley MP Nigel Evans has made his first appearance in court accused of committing sex offences against seven men.
Evans, 55, is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape.
Sitting at Preston Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Jane Goodwin adjourned the case until October 4 when the former deputy speaker will appear for a preliminary hearing at Preston Crown Court.
In a hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes, Evans walked into the dock and confirmed his full name - Nigel Martin Evans - his address and date of birth.
The charges, dating from 2002 to this year, were read out by the clerk.
Evans confirmed he understood the charges.
He was later granted bail on condition he does not approach directly or indirectly named witnesses.
Wearing a black suit and patterned tie, the MP posed for photographers as he left the building.
When asked if he wished to comment on the case, he replied: “I’m going back to Westminster to work now, thank you.”
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 this year; and the rape between March 29 and April 1 this year.
Evans resigned as deputy speaker of the House of Commons after he was charged on September 10.
The MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire has protested his innocence and pledged to “see this through to the end”.
He made a personal statement in the House of Commons the day after he was charged, claiming that facing the allegations was as hard as dealing with the deaths of his mother and brother in the past few years.
The Swansea-born MP, who lives in Pendleton, Lancashire, was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was ‘’tired of living a lie’’.
Evans was a vice chairman of the Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001. When Iain Duncan Smith became party leader in 2001, he was promoted to the shadow cabinet as shadow Welsh secretary - a post he held for two years.
As deputy speaker, Mr Evans sat as an independent MP but he will not take the Conservative whip and will sit as an independent MP for his constituency.