FORMER deputy speaker Nigel Evans has entered the witness box and told a jury that he had not raped or sexually assaulted anyone.

The 56-year-old is alleged to have sexually assaulted seven young men on various dates between 2002 and last year by using his "powerful" political influence to take advantage of them, often while drunk.

In his trial at Preston Crown Court he denies one rape, two indecent assaults, five sexual assaults and one attempted sexual assault.

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His barrister, Peter Wright QC, asked him: "Have you sexually assaulted anyone in terms of the allegations set out here, Mr Evans?"

The Swansea-born MP replied: "No, Mr Wright."

Mr Wright then asked: "Have you raped anyone?"

Mr Evans repeated: "No, Mr Wright."

Addressing the rape claim, Mr Wright said: "The principal allegation here that you face is having raped and sexually assaulted a young man. Did you have sexual contact with him?"

The MP said: "Yes, I did."

Mr Wright said: "Was it with or without his consent?" The MP said: "Absolutely with consent."

The MP also denied that he committed two further sexual assaults against the rape complainant on the same night.

Mr Evans spoke of his "co-ordinated" revelation in December 2010 that he was gay. He told the jury: "I struggled with it over many years, whether I should come out or not. My mum was in her 80s, there was no right time. I just did not want to upset her. I didn't know how she would take it."

He continued: "When she died on March 27 2009 that was a period for me to start to reflect when it was an appropriate time to finally come out at some stage."

He said that, following his decision to go public, he informed his family, members of his constituency association and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The trial continues