One day after being arrested over allegations that he raped one man and sexually assaulted another, a senior British legislator says the accusations are without merit. Britain's House of Commons Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans says the claims were made by people "who until yesterday I regarded as friends."
The complaints made against Evans accuse him of abuse in a period from July 2009 to March of this year. The men who filed the complaints are believed to have been in their 20s in that time span. Evans says that the two men who made the accusations know one another.
"The allegations are completely false and I can't understand why they have been made," Evans said in a statement to the media Sunday, "especially as I have continued to socialize with one as recently as last week."
Evans was freed on bail after being arrested for questioning; his car and property were searched for potential evidence. He reportedly has no plans to step down from either his post or his position of deputy speaker.
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond tells the BBC, "I know Nigel well, I have known him for years. I'm obviously as shocked as everybody else is."
Speaking to reporters outside his home in Pendleton, Lancashire, Evans said, "I'd like to thank my colleagues, friends and members of the public who have expressed their support and – like me – a sense of incredulity at these events."
Evans, 55, announced his homosexuality in 2010 — a move that he has said was motivated at least in part by signs that his political rivals might try to use his sexuality against him. A Tory, he has been a member of Parliament for 20 years, representing Lancashire's Ribble Valley.