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Evans to plead over sex charges
Nigel Evans, the former deputy speaker of the House of Commons, will enter formal pleas today over allegations of sexual offences against seven men.
Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, is to appear at Preston Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing.
The 55-year-old is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape. The charges date from 2002 to last year.
He has previously emphatically denied all the charges.
A provisional date of March 10 has been set for his trial, which is scheduled to last up to four weeks.
The indecent assaults are alleged to have been committed between January 1 2002 and January 1 2004; the sexual assaults - said to be touching without consent - between January 1 2009 and April 1 last year; and the rape between March 29 and April 1 last year.
Evans resigned as Commons deputy speaker after he was charged on September 10.
He made a personal statement in the House the day after he was charged, claiming that facing the allegations was as hard as dealing with the deaths of his mother and brother in the past few years.
The Swansea-born MP, who lives in Pendleton, Lancashire, was one of three deputy speakers elected in a secret ballot of MPs in 2010. Later that year he came out as gay, saying he was "tired of living a lie".
Evans was a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001.
As deputy speaker, he sat as an independent MP but he will not take the Conservative whip and will sit as an independent MP for his constituency.
He is on bail on condition that he does not contact any of his alleged victims.