'Victims' did not want Evans trial

Congleton Guardian: Nigel Evans denies all charges. Nigel Evans denies all charges.

Three men who prosecutors say were sexually assaulted by MP Nigel Evans did not consider themselves victims of any offence, a jury heard today.

None of them wanted to make a complaint about the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons to the police, who in each of their cases contacted them.

One said he forgave Evans's alleged advances and said he had not expected "in a million years" to find himself in court giving evidence.

He compared Evans's alleged actions more than a decade ago to "a drunken 14-year-old-old at a disco who could not chat you up with words".

The alleged victim went on to e-mail his support to the Ribble Valley MP when he was initially arrested last year on an allegation of rape and told him: "Stay strong."

Another told the court of how he too could not believe he was in the witness box and told detectives he did not want Evans to be charged as he did not think there were "any grounds" to do so.

Evans , 56, is on trial at Preston Crown Court over claims he used his "powerful" political influence to take sexual advantage of seven young men.

He denies one rape, two indecent assaults and six sexual assaults said to have taken place on various dates between 2002 and last year.

It was said he had the "ability to make or break" careers and assaulted the alleged victims in his home, House of Commons bars and his office in the Palace of Westminster.

The first three of the seven alleged victims gave their evidence today as Evans sat in the dock and frequently made notes.

A gay Westminster worker spoke of how Evans put his hand down his trousers in a London Soho bar in early 2003 but dismissed the incident as "just Nigel being drunken Nigel".

He said it was an "open secret" at Westminster that Evans, the then Conservative shadow secretary of state for Wales, was gay.

He felt Evans's fingers down the back of his trousers and because of his reputation he thought: "Oh God! He's doing it to me now!", the court heard.

The witness said he walked away to avoid a scene but when he did it again he told a female friend: "I'm going to punch him."

He continued: "He was quite persistent and I was annoyed but at the same time he was my friend, and I certainly forgave him for it because he was drunk.

"I have almost forgotten it...it was one of those things."

He confirmed he had socialised with Evans on a number of occasions since but had never discussed the matter.

He told the jury he considered the matter at the time "as like a big joke".

"It was like we were out one night and the shadow secretary of state for Wales put his hands down my trousers. Crazy, crazy Westminster. It seemed so funny," he said.

Peter Wright QC, defending Evans, asked him: "Never for a moment would you have considered that what took place in that bar would have resulted in you appearing in court today."

"Not in a million years," he replied.

He said he did not see himself as a victim of crime and confirmed the police contacted him last July and he went on to make a statement.

In his statement he said he saw the incident in the bar as "drunken over-familiarity, rather than being of a sexual nature".

The man's female friend told the jury of her surprise when police contacted her about the incident.

She told detectives: "It appeared to me like a cackhanded way of making a pass.

"The sort of thing that sometimes happens in a pub."

The next witness, who is said to have been indecently assaulted in 2003, gave his account of Evans allegedly twice putting his hand down his trousers at that year's Conservative party conference in Blackpool.

But the then Tory party worker told the jury he did not consider it to be a criminal sexual assault.

He said it was more the behaviour of "a drunken lech".

The events were said to have taken place between midnight and 3am in the Number 10 conference bar at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool in October 2003.

The witness said he was stood next to a tabloid journalist when a "clearly heavily intoxicated" Evans came to join them.

The defendant put his hand in his trousers on the waist line and to the small of his back before he attempted to manoeuvre it to his front, he said.

Evans was moved on after the witness complained to a Conservative Party Board official but he returned within five minutes and allegedly repeated the incident in "a carbon copy".

"I felt like it was someone being a bit of a drunken lech in a bar. I did not think it was particularly a seminal event," the witness said.

He continued: "At no point when looking back at it now did I see any malice or any sexual intent. It was an alcohol problem, as far as I see it."

He said he had not seen it as a police matter.

"It never entered my mind," he said.

Following a discussion with his wife after news of Evans's initial arrest last May on suspicion of rape, he agreed he was not going to contact the police himself.

"I said under no circumstances am I going to come forward to the police but if I am asked to speak about something that may have happened in the past, I was happy to do so."

Mr Wright asked: "At the time you did not perceive yourself to be a victim of a sexual assault in a criminal context?"

"Absolutely not," he said.

In his statement to police, he said: "I would like to categorically state I have no ill-feeling or malice to Mr Evans and I believed that I handled the incident appropriately.

"I do not wish Mr Evans to be charged as a result of what happened to me. I am making this statement after a witness reported the incident.

"I have absolutely no intention of making a complaint to the police and I am making this statement as a witness and not as a victim. And I believe that what happened to me has been dealt with and is a closed matter."

He said it was later explained to him that Evans would need to be arrested for the purposes of giving his version of events.

The witness told the court: "To be honest, I didn't think they were any grounds to be charged. I would not have believed that six months on I would be standing in a witness box."

The final witness of the day said he was a good friend of another young man, who was also one of Evans' alleged victims.

In the summer of 2009, then aged 21 or 22, he made his first visit to the Houses of Parliament and was introduced to Evans while drinking with others on the terrace of the Strangers' Bar.

While in a corridor area behind the bar the MP said to the young man "come here", and pulled a curtain around them in a more secluded area, jurors were told.

"Then he sort of lent in to kiss me and I just sort of said, 'No!' and sort of pushed to sort of stop and then his response to that was, 'Oh no, it's Ok'.

"My response was, 'No, it's fine, but we are not doing that'."

Under cross examination by Mr Wright, the witness agreed two years later in 2011 he travelled to Evans' home and stayed over there for a number of nights.

Mr Wright asked the witness if his friend had "put him up to" making this allegation.

"No," the witness replied.

Mr Wright read from the witness statement he made to police, it said: "I do not want to make a complaint against Nigel because I do not believe he has committed any offences. If I thought he had I would have done it at the time."

The trial continues tomorrow.

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