Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, is due to appear at Preston Crown Court on Friday for a pre-trial hearing in relation to several sexual assault charges.

The 56-year-old is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape against seven male alleged victims.

A provisional trial date of 10 March has been set for the MP, who stood down as deputy speaker after being charged in September.

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.

The MP has strenuously denied the charges.

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

As deputy speaker, he sat as an independent MP.

He has decided not to take the Conservative whip and remains an independent MP.

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