By a Newsnet reporter
Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for Ribble Valley since 1992 and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, has been arrested on suspicion of raping and sexually assaulting two men believed to be in their early 20s.
Mr Evans was arrested at his constituency home in Pendleton in Lancashire on Saturday morning and is understood to be still in police custody and being questioned in relation to the alleged offences.
In a statement, Lancashire Police said:
“A 55-year-old man from Pendleton in Lancashire has today, Saturday, May 4 2013, been arrested by Lancashire Constabulary on suspicion of rape and sexual assault.
“The man will be interviewed at a police station in Lancashire during the course of the day. The offences are alleged to have been committed in Pendleton between July 2009 and March 2013.
“We take all allegations of a sexual nature extremely seriously and understand how difficult it can be for victims to have the confidence to come forward. As a constabulary, we are committed to investigating sexual offences sensitively but robustly recognising the impact that these types of crimes have on victims.
“We would encourage anyone who has experienced sexual abuse, or who has information about it, to have the confidence to report it to us knowing that we will take it seriously, deal with it sensitively and investigate it thoroughly.”
Mr Evans came out as gay in December 2010, saying he was “tired of living a lie”. Although he had previously opposed civil partnerships and the equalisation of the age of consent, he has since been a prominent supporter of lesbian and gay rights.
The Welsh born MP has held various positions as a Parliamentary Private Secretary in John Major’s government and later became Mr Major’s spokesman on Welsh affairs.
As First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, Mr Evans is one of the three deputies to the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. Mr Bercow and Conservative leader, Prime Minister David Cameron, have both been informed of the arrest. A source close to the Commons’ Speaker said that Lancashire Police had informed Parliamentary authorities of Mr Evans’ arrest on Saturday morning.
Police began a forensic search of Mr Evans’ property in Pendleton after his arrest.
Late on Saturday evening, Mr Evans was released on police bail until June 17th. Police enquiries are continuing.