Police search MP’s office over ‘serious offence’

Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans' Westminster office is believed to have been searched by police, it has emerged.

Commons Speaker John Bercow told MPs at the start of today's sitting that an MP's office had been searched under a warrant issued in relation to a "serious arrestable offence" last Thursday.

The warrant for the arrest came from Preston crown court, leading most Westminster insiders to assume the MP in question is the deputy Speaker.

Evans, a member of Politics.co.uk's editorial board and the MP for Ribble Valley, was arrested by Lancashire police on suspicion of rape and sexual assault following allegations by two men.

He has not yet been charged and has insisted he is completely innocent. But he will not resume his chairing duties in the Commons while police investigations are ongoing, the Speaker's office confirmed last week.

A warrant is now a mandatory requirement for any search on the parliamentary premises, after outrage followed the Metropolitan police's search of then shadow immigration minister Damian Green's parliamentary office in November 2008 without a warrant.

A Commons official told Politics.co.uk this is thought to be the first time an MP's office has been searched since the Green incident shook up the rules.

Bercow was careful to explain to MPs he considered the warrant personally and concluded, following advice, that "there were no lawful grounds on which it would be proper to refuse its execution".

"The serjeant at arms and Speaker's counsel were present when the search was conducted," the Speaker added.

"Undertakings have been given by the police officers as to the handling of any parliamentary material until such time as any issue of privilege is resolved."

Evans was originally elected to parliament in 1992 and served in the shadow Cabinet before becoming deputy Speaker in 2010. He revealed he was gay in the same year.

Evans has been bailed until June 19th.