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Nigel Evans: I'm In Limbo Over Sex Claims
Former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans has given an emotional Commons speech after resigning to fight allegations of sex offences, including rape.
Evans, who stepped down after being charged on Tuesday night but is remaining an MP, told colleagues the claims had left him "in a land of limbo".
In a Commons packed following PMQs, Evans said the investigation had been the worst experience of his life after the deaths of his mother and brother.
But he cited Winston Churchill as he vowed to clear his name and thanked politicians across Parliament for their support in recent months.
Evans said: "This is clearly the most painful thing I have endured in my life alongside the loss of my mother in 2009 and the loss of my brother earlier this year.
"Winston Churchill said when you are going through hell, keep going. Sage advice. And so I will see this through to the end with the support of the people that mean so much to me."
The MP for Ribble Valley will sit as an independent while he fights the allegations, some of which date back to 2002.
The former Torry promised to focus on "the bread and butter of politics" and speak out for his constituents from the backbenches.
He described his election as deputy speaker as "one of the happiest days of my life" but said he had been unable to do his job since the first allegations were made in May.
"I have not been able to fully fulfil my duties in the chair, which left me in a land of limbo," he said.
"None of us were elected to the fine office of Member of Parliament to be put in that invidious position, unable to fully fulfil the reason why we were sent here."
The politician had already stepped aside from his Parliamentary duties because of the investigation but formally resigned on Tuesday night after being charged.
Evans, from Pendleton in Lancashire, is accused of two offences of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and one rape charge.
They were allegedly committed between January 1, 2001 and April 1, 2013.
The charges came hours after he answered bail about the earlier allegations and was re-arrested over another two claims.
Evans, 55, told MPs on Wednesday: "I now have the opportunity to robustly defend my innocence and seek acquittal."
His first court appearance will be before magistrates in Preston on September 18.
Commons Speaker John Bercow said he had received the resignation "with sadness".
"I wish to thank Nigel for his three years of service to the House as deputy speaker, in which he has proved to be highly competent, fair and good-humoured," he said.
"He has been a loyal and valued member of the team of deputy speakers who assist me in chairing our proceedings. I am warmly grateful to him."
Evans was one of three deputy speakers elected by secret ballot in 2010. Later that year, he came out as gay saying he was tired of "living a lie".
He was a vice chairman of the Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001.
When Iain Duncan Smith became party leader in 2001, he was promoted to the shadow cabinet as shadow Welsh secretary - a post he held for two years.