UK: Tory activists attempting to unseat gay MP Nigel Evans
Nigel Evans has decried the “whiff of homophobia” in his constituency, which has lead to a Tory grassroots campaign to unseat him.
The Conservative MP, who has represented the Ribble Valley constituency since 1992, came out as gay in 2010.
He resigned as deputy speaker in September, when facing multiple charges of indecent and sexual assault involving several men and one charge of rape, but was fully cleared of all charges in May this year.
Mr Evans is now facing a revolt from members of his local constituency party, who are seeking to deselect him as a Tory candidate.
In the next fortnight, the local party’s executive committee are expected to put his selection to a vote.
Under party rules, if the executive committee refuse to back him, Mr Evans can demand a ballot of all local party members.
He said: “People have said there is a whiff of homophobia about the area.
“The vast majority of people in the Ribble Valley have been incredibly supportive since I came out in 2010.
“But if anybody wants to hide their homophobia behind some form of moral judgement, that’s up to them.
“At the end of the day people will know that the case should never have gone to court, there was a great injustice done to me and I was acquitted in quick time. To prolong the torture further, I suspect the vast majority will not want to do that.”
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A local party figure told the Telegraph: “Ribble Valley is very traditional. There’s a lot of people who think Nigel’s wonderful, but there’s a lot of people who don’t.
“He was found innocent. But a lot of them don’t think its appropriate for their MP to be doing what he has been doing with the age group he has been doing it with.”
“Nigel is a friend of mine, but I will do what the association wants.
“What he does behind closed doors is nothing to do with me, but when it comes out in the press then it’s to do with the association and it is something to do with me.
“If he gets selected he’ll have to change an awful lot, let’s put it that way.”
Local councillor Peter Ainsworth said: “It’s mainly the members who are against him. If you speak to the women they can’t say anything against him, but the men seem to take a dim view.”