Evans: I'll see this through to end
MP Nigel Evans has defiantly protested his innocence in Parliament and pledged to "see this through to the end" after he was charged with a series of sex offences against seven men.
The 55-year-old made a personal statement in the House of Commons, claiming that facing the allegations was as hard as dealing with the deaths of his mother and brother in the past few years.
He resigned as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons after the charges of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape were confirmed by prosecutors on Tuesday night, and will stand as an independent MP for his Ribble Valley constituency in Lancashire.
Evans told MPs: "This is clearly the most painful thing I have endured in my life alongside the loss of my mother in 2009 and the loss of my brother earlier this year. Winston Churchill said when you are going through hell, keep going. Sage advice. And so I will see this through to the end with the support of the people that mean so much to me."
He said his family and friends have continued to support him through the allegations, and that he remains hopeful.
"I now have the opportunity to robustly defend my innocence and seek acquittal," he said. "Since these allegations, I have not been able to fully fulfil my duties in the chair, which left me in a land of limbo. None of us were elected to the fine office of Member of Parliament to be put in that invidious position, unable to fully fulfil the reason why we were sent here."
The politician has denied any wrongdoing since his first arrest in May - he was re-arrested in June and again on Tuesday on suspicion of further allegations.
The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between January 1 2002 and January 1 2004; the sexual assaults between January 1 2009 and April 1 2013, and the rape between March 29 and April 1 2013.
He dismissed the original claims against him as "completely false", and said they had been made by two people he had "regarded as friends". In June, after his second arrest, he said: "I continue to refute all allegations."
Shortly after leaving Preston police station on Tuesday night, Evans again vowed to clear his name in relation to the charges.