Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, will stand trial in connection with charges of multiple sex offences in March 2014, it has been announced.

The MP appeared at Preston Crown Court on Thursday for a hearing.

The 55-year-old has been accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault, and one of rape against seven male alleged victims.

His lawyer, Peter Wright QC, emphasised there will be a trial, with the MP having previously emphatically denied all charges.

Mr Evans, who spoke only to confirm his name, was told to go into the dock of the court when he appeared in the courtroom at the start of the ten minute hearing.

He was asked to hand over his mobile phone by the court security guard and disappeared briefly into a holding room behind the dock, out of view of the courtroom, before the judge came in and the hearing began.

A trial, lasting around four weeks, was set for 10 March 2014 for the former deputy speaker, who resigned from the post after being charged in September.

Mr Evans was bailed and is due to appear next at Preston Crown Court on 24 January.

The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between 1 January 2002 and 1 January 2004, the sexual assaults allegedly between 1 January 2009 and 1 April 2013, and the alleged rape between 29 March and 1 April 2013.

Mr Evans has been the MP for Ribble Valley since 1992.

As deputy speaker, he sat as an independent MP but he will not take the Conservative whip and will remain an independent.

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