The former deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans MP has demanded that the Crown Prosecution Service pay his £130,000 legal bill after being acquitted in a trial over a string of sexual offences, reports the BBC.
Mr Evans faced a criminal trial over allegations of repeated sexual assaults and one count of rape against various men who either worked at Westminster or were social acquaintances of Mr Evans.
The trial heard that Mr Evans was a ‘high-functioning alcoholic’ who enjoyed drinking and socialising, and who was prone to crossing boundaries that on more than one occasion led to sexual advances on men that were rebuffed.
However, the more serious allegations claimed that he forced himself on young men, and in the most serious case raped a man, all allegations which a jury found him innocent of at the conclusion of his trial at Preston Crown Court.
The Crown Prosecution Service has defended its decision to prosecute Mr Evans, saying that with the evidence handed to it by police a prosecution was the right decision.
Mr Evans has, however, asked that the CPS pay his £130,000 legal bill, saying that defending the untrue allegations had cost him his life savings. At present a refund of legal costs is possible but the funds come from taxation, not from the CPS budget.
Mr Evans said making the CPS pay for unsuccessful prosecutions would make them think twice about bringing prosecutions in the first instance.
The MP was also forced to give up his job as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, a role that paid him an additional £30,000 a year on top of his MP’s salary.
Mr Evans also criticised the lack of anonymity for those accused of sexual offences, saying that the balance in favour of the accusers was unfair.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said that the test for whether to bring a prosecution had been met in this case.
“We looked at all the evidence and decided there was a realistic prospect of conviction,” she said.
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