Deputy Speaker's office searched

Deputy Speaker's office searched

The offices of Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans have been searched by police

The offices of Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans have been searched by police

First published in National News © by

The offices of Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans were searched by police on Sunday in connection with an investigation into allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Commons Speaker John Bercow said the offices were searched after an order was granted by Preston Crown Court on Thursday. He said he had been consulted before officers entered Parliament.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: "We have confirmed that we have searched offices in London in connection with the investigation but it is inappropriate to comment any further other than to say that we have gone through all the appropriate and necessary procedures before taking this step."

In a statement to MPs at the start of Monday's sitting, Speaker Bercow said: "I wish to report to the house that the rooms of a member were searched yesterday pursuant to a warrant issued by the circuit judge in Preston Crown Court on 16 May. The warrant related to the investigation of a serious arrestable offence."

Mr Bercow continued: "I should remind members, as did my predecessor in 2008, that the precincts of parliament are not a haven from the law. In accordance with the protocol issued by my predecessor on 8 December 2008 on the execution of search warrants within the precincts of the House of Commons, I considered the warrant personally and was advised by officers of the house that there were no lawful grounds on which it would be proper to refuse its execution.

"In addition, as provided for in paragraph six of the protocol, I consulted the Attorney General and the Solicitor General who concurred in this advice. I am very grateful to them. The Clerk of the House was kept fully informed throughout, and also concurred. The Serjeant at Arms and Speaker's Counsel were present when the search was conducted. Undertakings have been given by the police officers as to the handling of any parliamentary material until such time as any issue of privilege is resolved. The investigation is continuing and it would not be right to comment further. I will not take questions on my statement."

Mr Evans, who strenuously denies the allegations, has stepped aside from his duties in the Commons though he has not been suspended. A House of Commons spokesman said last Monday: ''The Speaker and Mr Evans, First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, met on Tuesday May 7 and agreed that while Mr Evans will remain Deputy Speaker, he will not resume chairing duties while police investigations are ongoing."

Mr Evans, the Tory MP for Ribble Valley, was arrested on May 4 on suspicion of raping one man and sexually assaulting another between July 2009 and March 2013. Speaking to reporters in Westminster on May 7, he said he was having "just a few days off chair duty" but would continue having his regular meetings with Mr Bercow. He said he had been "overwhelmed" by the reaction from MPs as well as the amount of "sympathy" he had received from the public. The 55-year-old said he had been interviewed by police concerning two complaints "made by two people who are well known to each other and, until Saturday, I regarded as friends". He added: "The complaints are completely false and I cannot understand why they have been made, especially as I have continued to socialise with one as recently as last week."

Lancashire Police said at the time that Mr Evans, who has represented the constituency since 1992, had been arrested on suspicion of raping one man and sexually assaulting another between July 2009 and March 2013. Following several hours of questioning by detectives at Preston police station, he was released on bail until June 19. Mr Evans was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was "tired of living a lie". He told The Mail on Sunday that he had also been threatened with exposure by political opponents.

It later emerged the officers did not have a warrant to carry out the search. But a spokesman for the Lancashire force, who did not confirm it was the parliamentary offices of Mr Evans which were searched, said detectives had "gone through all the appropriate and necessary procedures" before the search. A spokesman for Mr Evans said he was unavailable for comment.

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