LONDON -- Nigel Evans, the senior Conservative member of Parliament who has been questioned by the police over accusations of rape and sexual assault involving two men, said Sunday that the allegations were "completely false."
In a statement to reporters outside his house in the Lancashire County village of Pendleton, Mr. Evans said the complaints were four years old and were made "by two people who are well known to each other and who until yesterday I regarded as friends."
Mr. Evans, 55, was interrogated by the Lancashire police for most of the day on Saturday and was released with an order to return for further questioning next month. He has not been charged. The police also searched his car and house.
The allegations concern two men in their 20s and cover a period from 2009 until a few weeks ago, according to British news reports.
Mr. Evans is one of the two deputy speakers in the House of Commons. He has been a member of Parliament since 1992 and was elected to the deputy speaker post in 2010. He acknowledged in a newspaper interview that year that he was gay, saying that his political enemies had threatened to expose his sexual orientation.
He did not say on Sunday whether he planned to step down from the leadership post, but Philip Hammond, the defense secretary, said it would be difficult for Mr. Evans to remain in the job while the matter was under investigation.
"It is quite difficult to carry out a sensitive and high-profile role while being under this kind of scrutiny," Mr. Hammond told the BBC.
In his statement, Mr. Evans expressed a "sense of incredulity" over the accusations and said he did not understand why the men had come forward, "especially as I have continued to socialize with one as recently as last week."world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.