Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has made his first crown court appearance in connection with charges of rape and sexual assault.
It set January 24th as the date for a plea and case management hearing. If Mr Evans pleads not guilty, as expected, a trial date was set beginning on March 10th next year.
Mr Evans walked into the dock at Preston Crown Court with his head bowed and appeared composed throughout the 10 minute hearing. Dressed in a smart grey suit and pink tie, he spoke only to confirm his name and acknowledge that he understood the conditions of his bail.
Evans has not yet entered any pleas to the single count of rape, two charges of indecent assault and five counts of sexual assault, although he has forcefully denied all the claims in statements to the press.
The trial will take place in Preston although it is understood the jury will not consist of any of Mr Evans’ Ribble Valley constituents.
The MP made no comments to waiting reporters as he left the court building in Ringway. The long-serving Conservative stepped down from his position as Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons after he was charged with the offences, alleged to have taken place between 2002 and 2013.