Witness tells of Evans’ Blackpool fracas

Nigel Evans, 56, arrives at Preston Crown Court
Nigel Evans, 56, arrives at Preston Crown Court
Share this article
Have your say

A former Tory councillor saw a man “thrashing around very violently” with the Lancashire MP Nigel Evans’ hand down his trousers in a late-night incident in a bar at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool, a court heard.

The openly gay Ribble Valley MP, accused of a series of sex offences, had to be pulled off and pushed away from the younger man during the “fracas”, jurors were told.

Mark Formosa said he was drinking with a friend at 2am in the Number 10 bar at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool during the 2003 Tory conference when the alleged incident happened, Preston Crown Court heard.

Out of the corner of his eye, Mr Formosa told the jury he saw the MP getting “closer and closer and closer” while talking to the man before indecently assaulting him.

Mr Formosa told the jury: “A fracas broke out.

“I saw the younger man thrashing around very violently from side to side trying to wrench himself free from Mr Evans’ grip. Mr Evans had his hand down the front of his trousers and was maintaining his grip and it seemed obvious that the younger man was not able to get him off him.

“I intervened along with several others in order to assist the younger man to get Mr Evans off him.

“We pulled him off and pushed him back towards the bar.”

The MP was advised to get to bed - as he was speaking on the platform at the conference the next day, while his alleged victim spoke to another MP, Conor Burns, about what had just happened, the jury heard.

Evans, 56, is on trial over claims he used his “powerful” political influence to take sexual advantage of seven young men.

He denies one rape, two indecent assaults and six sexual assaults said to have taken place on various dates between 2002 and last year.

It is alleged he had the “ability to make or break” careers and assaulted the alleged victims in his home, House of Commons bars and his office in the Palace of Westminster.

But Peter Wright QC, defending Evans, suggested that Mr Formosa was not telling the truth in his account of the incident, that it was a “fabrication”, and questioned why he had come forward to police after Evans was arrested.

“Or is it simply that you did not see any such incident at all, did you?” Mr Wright said.

“Er, I did, yes. I can only tell you what I saw,” Mr Formosa said.

“Or is it you have just jumped on the bandwagon?” Mr Wright added.

“Well, that just isn’t true,” the witness replied.

“And that in giving the account you did to the police you simply at that stage were making it up?”

“No, no,” the witness said.

Mr Wright continued: “Or is it you were simply motivated by enjoying a moment in the spotlight, Mr Formosa?”

“Well, that’s not true,” the witness replied.

Mr Burns added: “Nigel was and is a very popular, sociable Member of Parliament, respected on all sides of the House.”

Mr Wright then questioned the MP about how he came to make a statement to police, saying the young man in question had a call “out of the blue” about the matter from the police, who then got in touch with him.

The matter had been “consigned to history” and the MP’s response to the call was: “What are you talking about?”

Mr Burns said he had the “vaguest of recollections” which was “very hazy”, adding he understood the police wanted a “preliminary chat” but he told them his memory was not clear enough to help.

The police contacted him again, and again he told them his memory of the event was not “robust” enough to give a “meaningful statement”.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) then spoke with police and the MP was contacted again.

“I said I was still reluctant to make a statement,” Mr Burns said. “If I did not agree to assist I would be required to come before a judge here.”

The MP said he was not reluctant to help police; it was just that he thought he could not help them because his memory of the event was so limited but he took some legal advice and wrote a statement himself.

“Has there been any contact about being dragged to court if necessary?” Mr Wright, defending, asked the MP.

“No,” the witness replied. “It was made clear to me if I made a statement I may be called to give evidence.”

Mr Wright continued: “It would not be the first time that somebody at a political or any form of conference have ever indulged in drink?”

Mr Burns replied: “It would not be the first and will not be the last.”

“And others have advised it’s probably a good idea to go to bed?” Mr Wright continued.

“Correct,” the MP said.

“And probably not the first or last time somebody in drink has behaved indiscreetly?” the lawyer said.

“Yes,” the witness replied.

The events were said to have taken place between midnight and 3am in the Number 10 conference bar at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool in October 2003.

The witness said he did not know Evans at the time but, as he was a shadow frontbench member, he “knew of him”.