DCSIMG

Alleged victims did not feel offence took place, jury told

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Three of MP Nigel Evans’s seven alleged victims did not consider an offence had been committed against them.

A fourth man said he “had a bit of a giggle” about Evans’s supposed sexual assault on him, while a fifth man came forward to the police with his allegations but two days later said he wanted to withdraw them and did not wish Evans to be questioned about “a drunken misunderstanding”.

All five, plus another man, did not make complaints to police at the time of the alleged offences.

The only contemporaneous complaint was that of the young man who triggered the investigation by Lancashire Constabulary when he said Evans had raped him weeks earlier.

Evans’s first alleged victim in time said he had “almost forgotten” the indecent assault said to have been committed against him when the police contacted him last summer.

He said the MP had drunkenly put a hand down the back of his trousers in a Soho bar more than a decade ago.

But he said he forgave his friend at the time and treated it “as like a big joke”.

He told the jury: “It was like we were out one night and the shadow secretary of state for Wales (Evans’s then role) put his hands down my trousers. Crazy, crazy Westminster. It seemed so funny.”

The court heard that he had socialised with Evans since and even offered his support to Evans after his arrest on suspicion of rape and sexual assault last May.

“When I heard he had been arrested I could not believe it,”he said. “I saw him in a corridor and he looked really dreadful.

“I sent him an email asking if he wanted to come for a drink and ‘stay strong’.”

He told Evans’s barrister Peter Wright QC that “not in a million years” would he have expected to be answering questions in court over the Soho incident. The Westminster worker said he did not see himself as a victim of crime. He had no made no formal complaint at the time to anyone.

A woman friend of the alleged victim who said she witnessed the incident said she was “kind of surprised” when investigating officers contacted her.

She told police: “It appeared to me like a cack-handed way of making a pass. The sort of thing that sometimes happens in a pub. The sort of thing that can happen in times of contact between adults that is uninvited and unwelcome but part of life.”

A man who said Evans also twice put his hand down his trousers said he was content for the incident to be “quietly resolved” by the Conservative whips. The then Tory party worker said he did not consider the alleged event in the bar at the 2003 Conservative Party conference in Blackpool had amounted to a criminal sexual assault.

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

The thought of complaining to the police at the time had never occurred to him, he said.

Last year when police contacted him he said he did not wish to make a complaint and only gave a statement as a witness so that his account was “on the record”.

“To be honest I didn’t think they were any grounds to be charged,” he told the jury.

“I would not have believed that six months on I would be standing in a witness box.”

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.”

Another of Evans’s alleged victims said he “had a bit of a giggle” with a friend following his claim that Evans cupped his genitals when being introduced to him in the Strangers Bar at the House of Commons.

He told the jury: “I went to speak to (his friend) and had a bit of a giggle, to be honest.

“It was a funny situation. I’m a straight male but that sort of thing should not happen but occasionally it does happen, so you have to be jovial about it.”

He said he made no complaint at the time but spoke to police after they contacted him last year.

The next complainant rang the police the day after the widespread reporting of Evans’s initial arrest last May.

He said he told a number of people about an alleged assault by Evans in a darkened room at Westminster at the time in March 2011, but did not make an official complaint.

He told the court: “Because of how much I liked Nigel I think I decided to convince myself it was a one-off and that he got carried away, and he overstepped the line. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“And in Parliament, people don’t tend to have confidence in reporting anything about MPs.”

He said he believed the disciplinary system was “more concerned about how things appear rather than with actually what happened”.

But two days after his call to the police he texted a senior detective to say he wanted to withdraw his allegation.

He wrote: “What happened was not right but it was a drunken misunderstanding on his part. I don’t want Nigel to be questioned about this incident with me.”

Another alleged victim told police he did not want to make a complaint against Evans because he did not believe an offence had taken place.

Evans was said to have attempted to have sexually assaulted the man after he beckoned the man over and drew a curtain behind them at the Strangers Bar in the House of Commons in the summer of 2009. In his witness statement to police, he 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.”

He denied a suggestion that he had lied about the incident in an attempt to bolster a separate complaint in the investigation from his friend.

That friend had told Conservative Whips at the time that the MP had made a sexual advance to him at Evans’s home in July 2009.

He wanted Evans to resign but it was eventually agreed that the MP would apologise to him and accept a warning.

No police complaint was made but the matter arose again last March when the man alluded to Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston that he had been the victim of an assault by a MP. He went on to meet Speaker John Bercow with Dr Wollaston and outlined the 2009 allegations to him.

The rape complainant had also contacted Dr Wollaston by this time and agreed she could pass on anonymously the details of his claims to the Speaker. About a week later the rape complainant rang an officer at the Palace of Westminster and he was later referred to Lancashire Constabulary. Detectives in Lancashire interviewed him on May 3 and the following morning the MP received a knock on his door at his home and was arrested.

Evans was re-arrested in June and then in September when he was charged with the offences that led to his trial and acquittal.

 

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