The Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans, an openly gay Tory MP, was arrested at the weekend over allegations of rape and sexual assault brought by two men he described as his “friends”.
He was released on bail after being questioned all day on Saturday about the alleged offences which, according to the police, took place between July 2009 and March this year.
The arrest of the 55-year-old popular and high profile politician, who has been an MP for more than two decades and has held senior positions in the party, stunned Westminster with his colleagues saying they were “shell-shocked”.
Mr. Evans came out as “gay” three years ago saying he was "tired of living a lie".
In a brief statement to reporters outside his picturesque constituency cottage in the village of Pendleton, Lancashire, Mr. Evans described the allegations as “completely false” and said he had “socialised” with one of the complainants as recently as last week.
“Yesterday I was interviewed by the police concerning two complaints - one of which dates back four years, made by two people who are well-known to each other, and who until yesterday I regarded as friends. 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. I appreciate the way the police have handled this in such a sensitive manner,” he said expressing his “incredulity” over the allegations.
His lawyer was reported as saying that he did not intend to resign as MP or step down as deputy speaker but senior Tory figures said that given the seriousness of the allegations it might be “difficult” for him to continue in his post.
“I think that is essentially a question the speaker will have to consider,” said the Defence Secretary and Tory MP Philip Hammond.
“I know Nigel well, I have known him for years. I'm obviously as shocked as everybody else is," he told the BBC.
There was no comment from Downing Street.