FORMER deputy speaker of the House of Commons Nigel Evans used his "powerful" influence to sexually assault seven young men, a court has been told.

The MP had the "ability to make or break" the careers of those who wished to work in Westminster, a jury at Preston Crown Court heard yesterday.

It is alleged Mr Evans, 55, exploited his position and pressed his sexual attentions on his victims, and carried on doing so despite being warned about his behaviour.

Loading article content

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said: "He pressed his sexual attentions on those younger men, using his position of influence."

He said Mr Evans's behaviour occurred over time and despite repeated warnings from others. Mr Heywood said he had not doubt that Mr Evans believed his position meant it was less likely people would complain.

Mr Heywood said the repeated separate sexual assaults culminated in the rape of a young man in 2013. The first alleged offence happened in late 2002, with a gay man.

He was in a busy bar in London's Soho bar at which Mr Evans was also present. He said Mr Evans carried out a sexual assault on him.

The second complainant was assaulted in a bar at the 2003 Conservative Party conference in Blackpool. Mr Evans is alleged to have tried to put his hand down the young man's trousers, the jury heard.

The court heard allegations that Mr Evans attempted to kiss a man against his will at the Commons in 2009.

Another assault was allegedly carried out on a young man in Mr Evans's house in Lancashire.

A sexual assault on another young man is also alleged to have happened after the 2010 election in the Stranger's Bar at the Parliament.

The sixth sexual assault involved a man who came forward to police after hearing of Mr Evans's arrest.

The MP for Ribble Valley, in Lancashire, denies two counts of indecent assault, six of sexual assault and one of rape.