LONDON Nigel Evans, a former deputy speaker of Britain's parliament, was cleared on Thursday of sexual assault and a rape charge and said afterwards he had been through 11 months of "hell".
The 56-year-old openly gay lawmaker, who was vice chairman of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party from 1999 to 2001, had been accused of offences against seven young men, including alleged incidents inside the Houses of Parliament.
However, he was found not guilty of all the accusations by a jury at Preston Crown Court in northern England.
"This is not a time for celebration or euphoria ... there are no winners," Evans said in a speech on the court steps after the verdict.
"I have gone through 11 months of hell. Nothing will ever be the same again," he said but declined to answer reporters' questions on whether he would try to resume his political career.
Evans has been a member of parliament for Ribble Valley in Lancashire in northern England since 1992.
As one of parliament's three deputy speakers, Evans's duties had included keeping order during often fractious debates, calling on members to speak and enforcing the rules of the lower House of Parliament.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)