Ex-U.K. Commons Deputy Speaker Evans Cleared of Rape Charge

Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the U.K. House of Commons, was found not guilty of rape and sexual-assault charges today.

Evans, a lawmaker representing an area in northwest England, was cleared at a court in nearby Preston on charges of rape, sexual assault on a man and indecent assault on a man, dating back to 2002. He was first arrested in May and resigned as deputy speaker in September.

“I’ve gone through 11 months of hell,” Evans told reporters outside the court. “No celebrations. Nothing will ever be the same again.”

Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters he welcomed the news, and said he expected Evans, who resigned his post when he was charged, would want to discuss rejoining the Conservative Party on his return to Parliament, rather than sitting as an independent.

Some lawmakers questioned the decision to prosecute Evans. A series of high-profile cases brought by the Crown Prosecution Service involving sex-related charges have failed in recent months, including that against a soap-opera star, Bill Roache.

Evans cited Roache’s words outside the same court in Preston that “there are no winners.”

The CPS defended its decision to prosecute in a statement issued after the verdict.

“The complainants in this case provided clear accounts of the alleged offending and it was right that all of the evidence was put before a jury,” it said. “That evidence could only be fully explored during a trial, and the jury has decided, after hearing all of the evidence, that the prosecution has not proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. We respect this decision.”

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