1. ITV Report

'11 Months of hell': Nigel Evans cleared of sex charges

Nigel Evans, the Conservative former Deputy Speaker, has been found not guilty of rape and sexual assault following a four week trial.

The 56-year-old Ribble Valley MP had been charged with two counts of indecent assault, one of attempted sexual assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape.

The offences were alleged to have taken place between 2002 and 2009 and involved seven young men.

ITV News Correspondent Damon Green reports:

Mr Evans, who resigned the Tory Whip after he was charged last year, was cleared of all offences following a four week trial at Preston Crown Court.

In a statement outside court, he referred to having gone through "11 months of hell" since his initial arrest last May and added that "nothing will ever be the same again".

The prosecution of former Commons deputy speaker Nigel Evans was roundly criticised by Tory MPs today after he was cleared of a string of sexual offences.

A prosecution witness has told ITV News that they believed former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans MP should never have been charged.

"I don't believe he should have been charged. I don't think it wasa criminal act."

"It's the sort of thing that happens in every bar. It wasn't a big deal" They added.

Conservative MP and Minister for DisabledPeople, Mike Penning has added his voice to those demanding that the police and Crown Prosecution Service face more scrutiny in the wake of Nigel Evans' aquittal.

"I think the police need to get their act together and we need to look very, very carefully whether cases like this, whether it’s a senior public official like Nigel or anybody, whether these cases should have been in the courts in the first place.”

Three of his seven alleged victims did not consider an offence had been committed against them.

The Crown Prosecution Service also issued a statement defending its decision to take the Nigel Evans case to trial, saying that “The complainants in this case provided clear accounts of the alleged offending and it was right that all of the evidence was put before a jury," but that they respected the decision of the jury.

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