Nigel Evans may be guilty of “over-friendly and inappropriate behaviour” while drunk, but not sexual assault, the MP’s defence lawyer has said.
The Ribble Valley independent MP denies one count of rape, two of indecent assault and six of sexual assault from 2002 to 2013.
Peter Wright QC told Preston Crown Court on Monday that his client may have behaved like an “old fool” in making unwanted drunken advances, but he was a good man who “arrived into his middle years without a stain on his character”.
The Guardian reports Mr Wright said it was embarrassing for the MP to have to admit in public to sleeping with a young politics student less than half his age, but that he did not rape the 22-year-old in question.
After the placement, in March 2013, Mr Evans met with the student at his home in Pendleton for dinner to “catch up”.
It was alleged, after drinking champagne, wine and port, that the complainant suggested it was time for bed. Mr Evans allegedly followed him and guided him into his own bedroom.
Eventually he fell asleep only to awake to find Mr Evans raping him, prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said.
Mr Evan denies the charge and claims all sexual contact between him and the accused was consensual.
Today, Mr Wright suggested the rape complainant, who cannot be named, regretted having sex with the much older politician and invented the rape allegations to mask his shame.
“Everybody is entitled to what’s called sexual autonomy over their bodies. But just as submission is not the same as consent, regret cannot alter what has already taken place and permit a lack of consent to be substituted for what was indulged in the night before,” Mr Wright said.
He reminded the jury that the complainant had admitted under oath that he had changed his story about the alleged rape, withdrawing his initial allegations that Mr Evans had forced him into his bedroom. The man initially told police the MP had tried to bribe him with a job offer if he submitted, but later admitted no such offer had been made.
In 2003, Mr Evans is alleged to have indecently assaulted two men in their 20s when he approached them in public places while drunk and put his hand down their trousers – one in a Soho bar the other at a hotel during the 2003 Tory party conference.
Mr Wright said: “We say these earlier alleged incidents did not amount to much then and do not do so now.”
He added: “They are a high watermark of over-friendly, inappropriate behaviour by a drunken man, rather than the ingredients of an indecent assault.”
Mr Evans denies one count of rape, two of indecent assault and six of sexual assault.
The trial continues.
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