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Senior British politician Nigel Evans charged with rape, sexual assault

Nigel Evans was elected as a British member of parliament in 1992 and became deputy speaker of the House of Commons in 2010. Ben Stansall / AFP - Getty Images

LONDON -- A senior figure in Britain’s parliament has been charged with offenses against seven men including rape, sexual assault and indecent assault, prosecutors said.

Conservative politician Nigel Evans on Tuesday resigned as deputy speaker of the House of Commons following the allegations, which he “robustly” denies. He will continue as member of parliament representing the constituency of Ribble Valley.

The 55-year-old was first arrested in May on allegations of rape and sexual assault. He was re-arrested in connection with further alleged offences in June, before the Crown Prosecution Service charged him late on Tuesday.

Speaking n the House of Commons on Wednesday, Evans reiterated his intention to “robustly defend” against the allegations.

He thanked members from all parties for their support, as well as his family, friends, and even certain members of the media, to whom he looked up at the press gallery and said “you know who you are.”

He told the Commons that the day he was elected deputy speaker in 2010 was one of “the happiest days of my life” but that he had been “left in the land of limbo” since the allegations were brought.

The House speaker, John Bercow, said Evans had been “exemplary” in his role. He went on to describe him as “loyal and hugely valued” as well as “competent, fair, and good-humored.”

Earlier he had told reporters outside Preston Police Station: “Whilst I am saddened that this case has not been closed today, I am certain of two things: firstly that I am innocent, and secondly that my innocence will be demonstrated.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer announced late on Tuesday that Evans would face eight charges.

“We have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to prosecute," he said in a statement.

“Lancashire Constabulary has therefore been authorized to charge two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and one count of rape relating to a total of seven alleged victims.”

Evans was elected to parliament in 1992 and became deputy speaker in 2010. He served as vice chairman of the Conservative party from 1999 to 2001.

As one of parliament's three deputy speakers, the role includes keeping order during often fractious debates, calling on members to speak and enforcing the rules of the lower House of Parliament. 

The charges relate to incidents which are alleged to have been committed between January 2002 and April 2013.

Evans will appear before magistrates in Preston, Lancashire, on September 18.

Reuters contributed to this report.